Kate Wilson
June 24, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”My father lost me to the Beast at cards.” So begins the first story in the incredible anthology, Wild Women: Contemporary Short Stories by Women Celebrating Women, nominally women’s fiction, but really for anyone who likes female characters who are more than timorous window dressing. Devotees of tediously trendy psychobabble will rejoice: Editor Sue Thomas not only lugs in a ponderous foreword but also divides the stories into subsections with titles like ”The Dark Intruder/Mate” and ”Initiation, Endurance, The World of Female Knowing.” But the fiction is snarlingly, deliciously worth it, ranging from Margaret Atwood’s two-page jackboot-filled nightmare to a meringue by Alison Baker about tracking the legendary wild cheerleaders of Montana. And how did Thomas shoehorn the censorious Andrea Dworkin into the same volume with Anne Rice’s S&M erotica? This enraging, funny collection is no mindless pleasure trip, but whether you’re male, female, or (yes) both, something in here is aimed at you — right between the eyes. A-

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