Corinna Vallianatos, "A Civilizing Effect"

Her new boyfriend’s an accomplished somnambulist.

(A Public Space 02, Summer 2006)

Hanging up the phone, she was struck by how odd it was to invite her own daughter to dinner. Rhis person with whom she used to spend every waking minute — waking and sleeping — now accepted or rejected her overtures casually, without a hint of how unnatural a no could seem.

Not sure what this story was going for, exactly. It was interesting enough, and interestingly told, with juicy, complicated themes, but its overall goals escaped me. It had some memorable sentences and ideas, though. (It also had some less thoughtful sentences that pulled me out of the story.) The boyfriend who sleepwalks and sleeptalks like he’s awake should very well have felt like a plot device, but I bought him as flesh and blood. I”m all over the map on this one.

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