Germaine Greer would easily recognize the plight of Kiki Shaw, who, as she approaches 40, finds herself disappearing. Strange things are happening: Her foot goes through the plump body of her cat; she sometimes sees no reflection in the mirror; a coworker rifles through her office desk as if she were invisible, all of which prompts Kiki to evaluate her life and conclude that "it seems to consist primarily of Other Lives."
A researcher for a TV game show, Shaw is obsessed with trivia. She digs for unusual historical facts about women in roles as workers, wives and mothers. The relationships of her own mother, Gen, who is lost without a man, and friends Nora, who reinvents herself for each new beau, and Collier, the secret lover of a married man, inspire Kiki's musings as she traces her life back to her childhood.
Otto, author of the best-selling How to Make an American Quilt, scores again with these stories of engaging women who are struggling for identity in a society that doesn't really "see" them. (Villard, $20)