In her first collection of short stories, Eva Tihanyi aims to reveal some truths about women’s lives. The 13 stories in the collection are written in highly intimate and often ironic prose, and many involve female protagonists enmeshed in relationships that are at best lacklustre and, at worst, oppressive. For these women, remaining in stifling relationships “where laundry [is] more important than art” becomes increasingly difficult.
Men in Tihanyi’s narratives are depicted as obstacles to women’s self-knowledge and fulfillment. Repeatedly in these stories, women choose relationships and marriages with men, then gradually come to the realization that they have settled for something commonplace, compromising too much of themselves in the process. As one protagonist declares, “Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.” The solution for some of these characters is to flee their domestic dissatisfaction and enter into more life-giving and engaging relationships – both platonic and sexual – with other women.
While Truth and Other Fictions reads in part as a bitter commentary on the disappointing conditions of women’s lives with men, it is saved from becoming merely a discouraging invective about male inadequacies and the flaws in conventional relationships by the courage and empowerment of Tihanyi’s protagonists. These women choose to move out of the static patterns of their lives and embrace something simpler, less burdensome, and infinitely more inspiring.
Truth and Other Fictions exemplifies a bold and unflinching willingness to initiate an authentic discussion about women’s enduring challenges to define themselves within and outside of their personal relationships.