In the fifteen stories collected in The Way It Is Now, girlhood, love, sexual initiation, motherhood, and middle age are played out in cauterizing dramas against a variety of background settings. Growth is often forced rather than chosen, and the joys of maturity gleam and vanish.
In “August Ninth at Natural Bridge,” a young girl is made to recognize her independence from her family at a time when she wants nothing but her father’s compassion and attention; in “The Big Day,” a girl waiting for her soldier husband to come home finds that, in spite of her efforts, the gap between them cannot be healed. “Conversations” telescopes the life of a conventional man who lives on the marrow of female experience, starved for the emotional tumult of a young wife’s day. And past is present in “Mourning,” where bitterness replaces sorrow after death in a family, and conventional behavior masks cruelty and a thirst for revenge as the family members disguise and reveal their animosity.
Central experiences, too complex for easy handling, have their place in all the stories in this collection. And the characters—quick, warm, and immediate—carry intimations of strength and vitality into the reader’s life.