Bodies of Water
For a rookie fiction writer, singer Rosanne Cash packs a passionate punch in the debut story collection Bodies of Water, whose concision clearly springs from her experience as a veteran songwriter. Cash’s protagonists are women (mostly mothers) approaching middle age, plagued with nagging regrets, who at once cherish the idealism of youth and are relieved to have outgrown it. These stories are freshest and smartest when Cash tackles specific conundrums, like that of a high school teacher who realizes her students, not her own children, ”received the best, the most stable and inspired parts of herself.” When she takes on more general themes like childbirth, her philosophizing sounds girlish rather than womanly. But for the most part, Bodies of Water is refreshingly direct; Cash writes gracefully — and autobiographically — about strong women, and tenderly about motherhood.