Picks and Pans Review: Honey

updated 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Elizabeth Tallent

According to Elizabeth Tallent, "honey" is what men and women call each other when there's nothing left to say. Here, she has produced a fine new collection of stories, brave and unflinching tales of modern marriage. This is romance unromanticized, full of stepchildren, ex-wives, half sisters, even stepcousins. Honey brilliantly illuminates the new nuclear family. The known rules no longer apply, warns Tallent, so we had better find a way to make the old institutions work.

Tallent, the author of a novel (Museum Pieces) and two collections of stories (Time with Children and In Constant Flight), is at her best when describing couples who, for the sake of keeping peace, don't tell each other the truth. Her characters, whose pasts are littered with mistakes and ghosts, tiptoe around one another in valiant attempts not to repeal history. In gently laying down the bare-bones truth about what it means for hope lo triumph over experience, she has deepened her gift for delivering subtle insights. (Knopf, $22)

From Our Partners