Jennifer Reese
April 23, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Ideas of Heaven

Current Status
In Season
Joan Silber

We gave it an A-

In her exquisite new book, Silber captures whole lifetimes in radiant, loosely linked first-person narratives. In ”My Shape,” a woman meets her husband on a cruise ship, follows him to France, then leaves him to pursue a dance career in New York. But after she is humiliated by her snippy dance teacher — who calls her a hippopotamus and commands her to lick his shoe — she returns to Europe. Years later, she still thinks of him when she meditates: ”I have never had another enemy.” Several pages into the next story, ”The High Road,” you realize that the bitter narrator, a gay dancer suffering the agonies of unrequited love, is the same scornful teacher. The overlapping of these six delicate monologues gives this slender book the weight and breadth of a novel.

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