Propelled by monomania, these are stories that glide from the preoccupations of one speaker to those of another. The weight of these obsessions, driven by the kinetic and emotive force of Susan Steinberg's capable hand, is what fuels her fiction. "Hydroplane" reads like a nocturnal drive along a beclouded and vapory highway, working in a similar direction as the novels of Samuel Beckett, most notably "Watt" and "Molloy". Much like those title characters, the speakers populating this collection are crippled by their loss, able only to rummage through recollections of the past as protection against an indistinct future. One story, "Static," follows a few steps behind a teenage girl as she spends the summer at the home of her divorcee father. Squandering evenings behind the House of Mirrors, she conceives of herself as a sexual entity, and an object of male desire. Each of Steinberg's stories builds upon itself as if telegraphed, relaying mere slivers of the past. One sentence glissades into the next as though in perpetual motion: "And I thought of trees. How they grow out of nothing - dirt. How they grow into nothing - air. How somehow there's life - a spark, until it gets crushed.
That's life you know. Screaming oneself awake." That is, to awaken from a dream while behind the wheel and to realize that the past is not only alive and well, but thriving.
Susan Steinberg received her MFA in English from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She is the editor of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing and author of The End of Free Love (FC2, 2003). Her stories have also been published in Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, and The Massachusetts Review. She teaches English at University of San Francisco.
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