Matrix Magazine Review - The Cult of Quick Repair

Reviewed by: Drew Halfnight

There is something womblike about the stories in Dede Crane's new collection The Cult of Quick Repair. The warm prose washes over the reader like a benign amniotic fluid, and one has the sense, especially in the opening  story "Seers," which evokes the deep heat and soothing gyrations of an ultrasound, that one could perhaps float effortlessly through life with no trouble at all. But for Crane, the ultrasound reveals babies and tumours alike. Visceral ruptures, including abortions, adultery and death, await the characters in this collection. The dowdy nurse who so lovingly applies the cool, bluish goo, for example, becomes the victim of spontaenous perversions.

Crane is at her best when dark, and she's darkest when observing the wretchedness of men. In "Raising Blood," the protagonist flays his own knee-cap with a virating turkey knife in order to establish an alibi for the crimson stains on his conjugal sheets - actually menstrual blood from an adulterous fling gone wrong. In "Sunday Bastard," a hungover husband spills the contents of his wife's purse on the counter at a grocery store, then, seeing that she's carrying a used prophylactic, announces to a mortified clientele that she's been cheating. He is exposed as a total bastard, but somehow we forgive the poor loser. Crane manages the same deft balance in "What Sort of Mother," when a perfect father succumbs to the drink and drives his car into a telephone pole, nearly killing his two kids.

Though Crane is obviously a gifted storyteller, and while the earnestness of her desire to unearth new truths is felt, the stories rarely dig and stir to the extents they might. "Medium Security," a brief story about a repressed inmate in a female prison, misses the mark. At times the author could be writing for her other genre of choice, teen fiction, if it weren't for a minor plot turn to an adult subject. 

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