Jessie's Reviews > Obscene Gestures for Women

Obscene Gestures for Women by Janet Kauffman
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's review
Mar 23, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fiction

3 1/2 stars as a whole since some stories come through too chiseled for me, too spare, but several individual stories get 5 stars; I learn from the spareness here, all the things JK can leave unsaid; the stories are lyrically muscular, the characters (mostly women) strange and wonderful; JK lives in Michigan and gives real life to the machinery of the Midwest farmer, the language of tractors and combines and velvetleaf (esp in the story “Machinery”).

Here’s a good sampling of her prose, so windy & devilish, from “In the Discorruption of Flesh”:

“Brethren in church washed feet, he says, in the discorruption, devotion of disciples. Men took off their socks. Women took off anklets. It was plain from the start that stockings and then later, so much later, panty hose, white in the spring and smoke in the fall, would not slip easily into the ritual, would not contribute to discorruption, until much later, in autumn, someone would wind them off, they would be smoke, and wash the feet carefully, even between the toes, and then hold the toes, still wet, to his mouth.” (108)

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