By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated April 20, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Beatrice told Shipley she would sleep with him, and then she passed out. When she awoke the next morning, he said he’d gone ahead without her.” So begins The Brutal Language of Love, the debut short-story collection of Erian, a writer whose voice is so powerful that her words seem to unshackle themselves from the page and resound like a monologue spoken by your wittiest friend. The stories focus on disenfranchised characters — all women or girls — in alternately poignant and ridiculous situations. From the complications of love (”Bikini”) to the strangeness of family relationships (”When Animals Attack”), Erian presents her world in hilarious, unsentimental prose.