Picks and Pans Review: Thank You for the Music

updated 02/16/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Jane McCafferty
SHORT STORIES

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Ordinary people stumble toward transcendence in this set of stories linked to songs. McCafferty's Northeasterners speak eloquently in twisted metaphors. They don't intend to break the boundaries of their semimarginalized existences but wind up opening themselves "like you open the front door for the cat, just enough for the animal to slink through into the open air." Backed by references to the music of Springsteen, the Shirelles and Trisha Yearwood, their struggles become an album of epiphanies.

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