Picks and Pans Review: Me and My Baby View the Eclipse

updated 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Lee Smith

When life beats up on Lee Smith's women—which it does more often than not—they hardly ever battle back. "When Lonnie left me, all I did for two weeks was throw up and cry," says the heroine of one story in this collection.

Stunned and befuddled, Smith's victims of romance stumble on, picking up the cad's dry cleaning, wondering for whom they'll now make carrot cake, compiling rules of conduct during a spouse's nervous breakdown. But the point is, they do go on, these fading beauties and their (mostly) misbehaving men, finding their own paths to dignity, quirky and sad.

Dignity matters to Smith. Though her Southern situations and matter-of-fact tone harken back to Flannery O'Connor, she lacks O'Connor's nasty streak. Just as Sharon Shaw, the otherwise ordinary wife in the title story, learns to look at her squeaky-voiced, hyperdramatic lover "with new eyes," we quickly change our view of all Smith's struggling souls. Like much of Smith's work, this collection throbs with a heart-wrenching humanity. (Putnam, $18.95)

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