Cover image for The woman who cut off her leg at the Maidstone Club, and other stories
The woman who cut off her leg at the Maidstone Club, and other stories
Slavin, Julia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
Physical Description:
194 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A John Macrae book."
Swallowed whole -- Babyproofing -- Dentaphilia -- The woman who cut off her leg at the Maidstone Club -- Covered -- Beauty and Rudy -- Rare is a cold red center -- Pudding -- Lives of the invertebrates -- Blighted -- Painting house -- He came apart.
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An edgy, comic, and disturbing debut-a hip Diary of a Mad Housewife.

Julia slavin's tales are bulletins from the front. Suburban young marrieds, the narrators have been stranded by their careers, their homes, their lives. Amidst the punishing schedules dictated by daily demands-baby-proofing the house, folding laundry, steaming carrots, taking clients out to steak houses-they live by their fantasies. Julia Slavin conjures a world that is both familiar and limitless, where daily the banal and the unimaginable brush up against each other. A housewife swallows the shirtless adolescent boy who cuts her lawn. Strolling down the airport corridor to catch his shuttle home, a businessman risks everything to save an eight-pound lobster from certain slaughter and consumption. Maisie Haselkorn of the Eastport Haselkorns, a decent upper-middle-class woman, cuts off her leg-at a posh private club. And something as innocuous as pudding spilled on the kitchen floor might be grounds for divorce. Riotous and inventive, The Woman Who Cut Off Her Leg at the Maidstone Club and Other Stories is a riveting read by a surprising new talent.

Author Notes

Julia Slavin worked as a model and then an ABC-TV producer for Prime Time Live before she moved to Washington, D.C. She is currently at work on a novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

How does a businessman become obsessed with an eight-pound lobster named Gina? Why is 46-year-old Steven being pursued by his childhood security blanket? In these and other surreal stories in this collection, Slavin combines the banal and the bizarre to illuminate the dynamics of relationships from both masculine and feminine perspectives. Simultaneously touching and horrifying, these compelling, highly metaphorical suburban legends are grotesque yet achingly familiar. We meet Carla, whose lover is an ancient oak tree; Jeannette, voted Pretty Mom of the Year yet unable to save either her marriage or her relationship with her son; Rudy the Cinder, fiendish owner of a New Age commune; and Maisie, the girl who cuts off her own leg to cope with being jilted by her lover, Ben. Slavin's style is simple, clean, reminiscent in tone of fairy tales, yet her characters are quite well developed, and her insights into the complexities of the human heart are thought provoking. True love, adultery, incest, marriage, jealousy, the joys of parenthood--all figure here, larger than life and skillfully portrayed. This is one must-read collection of short stories. --Bonnie Johnston

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this debut collection of 12 short stories with surrealistic twists, Slavin's imagination and sense of humor combine like a funhouse mirror: reality is still visible, but utterly changed. In one crazy minute the narrator of "Swallowed Whole," a woman who is on fertility drugs, goes from obsessing about the teenager who cuts her lawn to swallowing him in the throes of an insatiable kiss, in essence carrying him as one would a fetus. In other examples of life run amok, objects like a childhood security blanket ("Covered") take on a menacing life of their own, while seemingly normal people are inexplicably visited with science fictional afflictions, such as the woman who grows teeth all over her body ("Dentaphilia"). Even in these bizarre situations, Slavin touches the heart, but she verges on pathos in the more conventional stories, such as "Rare Is a Cold Red Center," in which she expertly evokes a group of young employees at a restaurant through the voice of the vulnerable teenage cook trying to make good on his attempts to detox. Other fine tales describe domestic discord ("Pudding") and fanatic careerism ("He Came Apart"). In the standout title story, Slavin wickedly satirizes the desiccated members of a snooty club in the Hamptons who find sexual satisfaction only with the despised parvenus (named Loeb and Donatucci and Moskowitz) who have brought new money into the community. Slavin's penchant for the grotesque is initially startling, but her gruesomely funny view of modern life can be memorable. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The suburbs have long provided fodder for literary minds, and like dozens of writers before her, newcomer Slavin falls prey to their seductions. Yet the 12 tales in this collection are somehow different, taking the reader onto turf that seems fresh and unfamiliar. Witty and tightly wrought, Slavins stories offer humor and pathos, critique and chronicle. Pudding documents the tensions in a long marriage; a daughters lip ring and a spilled bowl of chocolate pudding are central players in this poignant look at the everyday stresses undergirding even the most loved-filled homes. Other stories, like He Came Apart and Swallowed Whole, are hilarious looks at the banality of corporate careerism and the sexual attractions felt by even the very married. Rare Is a Cold Red Center, offers an insightful look at the process of recovery from drug abuse, while Dentaphilia is an unsettling piece about physical deterioration. There is nothing predictable about Slavins work; by turns charming and eerie, her stories are sure to engage and stimulate. Highly recommended.Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.