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July 04, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

BONNEVILLE BLUE by Joan Chase (Ballantine: $4.99; 195 pp.). The stories in this collection have the entre nous tone of yarns recounted over iced tea in a sunny back yard. In the title story, the reader watches a Vietnam-era housewife struggle to make sense of her life by watching her lower-middle class neighbors; an adolescent girl learns difficult lessons about status, sexuality and independence from an unconventional friend in "Peach." Chase has a gift for the seemingly casual turn of phrase that gives her fiction the vivacity of a personal recollection. The housewife in "Bonneville Blue," "whacked the bejesus out of the sofa cushions" while the narrator of "Elderberries and Souls," describes her grandmother as "mostly a collection of bones tied up in apron."

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