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The Cult of Quick Repair

by Dede Crane

Get close enough to the average story and the blood stains are revealed as only raspberry jam, the ghouls merely shuddering curtains. In The Cult of Quick Repair, however, the wounds that Dede Crane’s characters carry around are just as they seem: deep, ragged, and slow to heal. The well-meaning men and women in these tales abuse one another mercilessly – though never quite on purpose – clambering over each other in dull and vacant lovemaking, or engaging in listless affairs. In one story, a stay-at-home mom lures a phone company flack into phone sex, while in another, a woman hunts for her first orgasm with great trepidation.

Evocative, mesmerizing, and at times darkly comic, these 12 tales are deceptively simple stories of the monstrous beauty and unshakable disappointments of everyday life. In her stories about love and family, Crane is at her finest. In the moving title story, a daughter lingers by her mother’s deathbed, trying to decode her Buddhist beliefs, while in the twin tales “What Sort of Mother” and “What’s Handed Down,” Crane’s characters struggle with the self-loathing and terror that come packed in the heavy emotional baggage of motherhood. (Not coincidentally, Crane is the co-editor, with Lisa Moore, of Birth, the Common Miracle, a collection of non-fiction due out next fall.)  

Among the tales that diverge from the family home, the most successful is “Best Friends,” a quirky story of a scandalous kiss between hockey players. Others feel out of place or a little long-winded.

There are plenty of very dark everyday truths – the gaps between mothers and their children, for instance, or the boredom of happy marriage. In this honest and unflinching collection, Crane roots them out and  holds them up.


Reviewer: Caroline Skelton

Publisher: Coteau Books


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 264 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 978-1-55050-392-0

Released: March

Issue Date: 2008-5

Categories: Fiction: Short