Monday, February 23, 2009

Is This What Other Women Feel Too?

Is This What Other Women Feel Too?
June Akers Seese
Dalkey Archive Press

Katie is an isolated college student in 1954 Detroit making her way through a variety of jobs. She is having an affair with a married man. Francis is 23 years her senior with an invalid wife at home. She says of her relationship, “I stopped using the word lover; it describes noting and sounded leftover from the twenties.” Katie’s life is told through her eyes and letters between herself and Parker, her only friend.

Seese describes the uncertainty of Katie’s relationships and life in stark terms. Katie is left behind when her lover leaves for home and Parker to New York. She describes the loneliness of her relationship, “I have a brittle laugh that’s worse when I cry and I couldn't stop. That’s all. I asked him to leave and he did. I fell asleep. My dreams were filled with his narrow chest and five o’clock shadow.” Even in sleep, she can’t escape her obsessive love. Even Parker’s advice that “Francis will never get a divorce. There are other men who read books and who have a few books left over to spend on dinner out and Christmas presents” won’t keep her away from him.

“I saw the blinds drawn in his shop that Monday and I knew something awful had happened.” With those words, Katie’s life is changed forever. The description of Katie sitting by Francis’s bedside is heartbreaking.

Set from 1954 to 1966, we see Katie evolve into an independent woman. We also meet David. Katie’s first boyfriend after Francis’s death. David is also struggling with his homosexuality and how to live an authentic life within the conventions of the 1950s. Then there is Parker, 28, walking stooped against the wind with a lot of miles on her. Even her New York job and tight prose can’t save her from the conventions of the 1950s. Through Katie’s voice, Seese creates characters deserving of compassion. They are good people making the best of difficult circumstances and always finding the will to and courage to survive.

Other books by June Akers Seese:

James Mason and the Walk-In Closet
A Nurse Can Go Anywhere and Collected Short Stories
What Waiting Really Means

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