Nervous Dancer by Carol Lee Lorenzo
(Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)

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The lives on view in Nervous Dancer are complex and precarious. Speaking their familial idioms in tones and cadences determined well before they ever appeared in these stories, Carol Lee Lorenzo's characters surge into moments of change for reasons initially not apparent. In the quirky, hard-edged ways in which they stumble, beg, come of age, fall apart, and reunite, they reveal no simple notions about life.

The way women and children see men is often the focus of these stories, and female voices are the most numerous in Nervous Dancer. Singularity of character can be found in anyone, however, such as the nameless father in "Unconfirmed Invitations," whose guilt over his drinking and marital infidelities leads to a bizarre hunter-gatherer compulsion. Lorenzo's women are often mothers, like LuAnn Wilson Hunter in "Something Almost Invisible," who says of herself and her son that they are "divorced from everything, we are all living in slow motion, not at home anywhere." Others find themselves in double binds with generational friction compounding their troubles, such as Eulene in "Nervous Dancer," who informs her mother, "Just because I'm in your house doesn't mean I've lost the right to fight with my husband."

Lorenzo says that her characters are "in the throes of love with its impurities or as sterling as it comes, and sometimes they trip the spring and the hard face of hate appears." She believes that "it's not always the outside force, someone else's doing, that changes things or brings confrontation. It's our stranger within--our unspoken self that frightens and engages us. That's what story allows us to see."


About Carol Lee Lorenzo

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Published October 1, 2011 by University of Georgia Press. 183 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Only two stories, ``Two Piano Players'' and ``Something Almost Invisible,'' provide much in the way of dramatic situation, the former by giving two girls on the edge of puberty a chance to roam about a small town, and the latter by forcing the usual weltschmerz narrator to track down the owner of...

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