Fresh Girls and Other Stories
Author: Evelyn Lau
Format: Unknown Binding
Publisher: Not Avail
Release Date: April 02, 2007
Evelyn Lau's first short fiction collection, Fresh Girls, lingers in spaces "dusty with red light so everyone looks good, even sometimes a man." Her characters, whether professional or amateur, are all in the shadowy business of sex, but the economic and social stigmas that attach to their marginal lives are dwarfed by their shared profound inner disappointment. Lau's deft clinical inspection of the dynamics of power, sex, and money takes caustic snapshots of lives lived in stasis or, worse, caught in a downward spiral.
In the title story, Monica, the queen bee of the massage parlour, is threatened by the constant influx of supple young women: "New girls, they come; new girls all the time. How am I supposed to make a living? Tell me!" In "Marriage," a nameless young woman falls heavily for an older doctor. Under his deluge of compensatory gifts and outright cash, she gasps, "I have no similar method of striking such bargains with my conscience." Plain Jane, in "The Apartments," dares to dream that "Perhaps tonight will be the night he sinks to his knees" and tells her that he loves her, "that he can't be a client anymore." Not a chance. On the sobering cab ride home, "between the waves of nausea it occurs to her that certain things, things that once seemed so possible, are becoming less and less likely with each passing night."
Lau's writing is clear and relentlessly nuanced, neither jaded nor sanctimonious. A detour toward personal destruction spawned her best-selling 1989 memoir, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid. Three years later, her first book of poetry, Oedipal Dreams, made Lau the youngest-ever Governor General's Award nominee, and she has continued to fashion poignant books of poetry, short story collections, and novels from the shards of her shattered past. --Sigcino Moyo