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Pretending the Bed is a Raft

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These short stories are like sugar cubes: eight strong shapes, some a bit crumbly in the corners, that dissolve easily and leave a trace of sweetness. They’re voiced mostly by winsome, clever Southern heroines who are busy getting their affairs in order — or just having affairs — while lovers, husbands, and daddies bumble cluelessly in the background (dying of cancer, the title story’s Belinda puts ”find Virgil a new girlfriend” on her to-do list). The best, like the Accidental Touristy ”Why Richard Can’t,” see these women through others’ loving, exasperated eyes. None in Pretending the Bed is a Raft fail to stir. A-