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IN BRIEF

Fiction

October 02, 1994|ERIKA TAYLOR

GETTING OVER TOM by Abigail Thomas (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: $16.95; 204 pp.) Women who fall for the wrong men is the primary subject of Abigail Thomas' first collection of short fiction, "Getting Over Tom." Spanning about 40 years, these stories are pleasant, easy to read and a safe gift for someone you don't know very well.

There's Virginia, who narrates four pieces set in the fifties. Married and pregnant much too young, she tries to make the best of a terrible situation. "To tell the truth, I liked it better before, when we didn't do it," Virginia thinks. " . . . I liked it better in cars when your breath sounded like something inside you had broken. I liked not doing it better than I like doing it." Then there's Louise, a menopausal mother of four who begins an affair with a 20-year-old construction worker. "Louise feels like a summer house this kid has broken into, pushing his way through doors that haven't been opened in years. . . . A fine, honorable old house, and he appreciates the way it has been made, the way it has lasted, the strength of its structure, noble old dimensions." Thomas never bashes men and her women are not helpless victims. In the one truly dark story, "So Far So Good" a disturbed man picks up a runaway teen-age hitchhiker, and somehow, one feels sorry for both of them, even as the man does a terrible thing.

Thomas' stories are well conceived, witty and touching. They will not break many hearts nor glue them back together. This is the type of book one can read in a few days, laugh a little, feel sad and then put it on the shelf.

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