Limbo, and Other Places I Have Lived

By Lily Tuck
(HarperCollins Publishers, Hardcover, 9780066209425, 192pp.)

Publication Date: January 2002

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Lily Tuck understands that emotional transformations cannot-and should not -- be easily explained. In her elegant and penetrating first collection, Limbo, and Other Places I Have Lived, Tuck offers a portrait of the subtle shifts that can render the accommodations we make to our lives or to our partners suddenly impossible.

Tuck's characters are in the midst of a composed yet profound rebellion, the basis of which is a growing estrangement from the self, a need to return to some fundamental truth whose discovery, as often as not, will force significant change. These characters travel to unknown, exotic places, and, while there, find themselves deeply immersed in observation-of the natives of the locality, of the local customs, of the foreign landscape -- in an effort to discern some elemental truth about who they themselves are. Yet rather than see the self reflected back clear as rainwater, these women meet instead with disorientation, confusion; they are disappointed by the people closest to them -- lovers, husbands, members of their families.

Tuck is a writer of such grace and understatement that one does not immediately recognize the piercing psychological acuity and deftness of her observations. Her characters are full of poignant yearning and guarded optimism, of unwavering honesty, even in the face of painful disappointment or physical chaos. It is the elements of pain and confusion that bring these women back to themselves in precisely the way they need to be; to the sometimes heartbreaking but finally optimistic realization that the answers they seek lie not in other people, or places, but rather within themselves. Limbo, and Other Places I Have Lived is a brilliant collection from a writer of exceptional poise and insight.

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