In "Gypsy Lore," one of 19 stories in Janice Eidus's new collection, The Celibacy Club, 15-year-old Anna asks a fortune teller about sex. "He comes in, he goes out. He comes in, he goes out. That's all," the gypsy replies. The gypsy's evident ennui about sex might apply just as easily to this collection itself, in which a lot happens but nothing much matters. In the title story, Nancy joins a celibacy club where everyone talks about why they're not having sex. Then she has sex with one of the club members, quits the club and buys a condo in the Bronx. In "Making Love, Making Movies" screenwriter Jeff inexplicably starts cheating on his wife of ten years, an actress obsessed with Sigourney Weaver. During each affair he casts himself as a different Hollywood actor, while each encounter becomes a scenario for yet another trite film cliché in his hackneyed mind.
Ms. Eidus's tales are often amusing, but she tends to substitute pop culture references for character development, and high concept ideas, i.e., a Barbie doll goes to group therapy, for theme. Still, readers who enjoy this type of ultra-hip urban story-telling may well find The Celibacy Club entertaining reading.
Praise for The Celibacy Club:
"Balancing humor and depth, the 19 short stories in this collection reflect the quirky voice, at once cynical and sincere, that has made Eidus a two-time winner of the O. Henry Award. In their funniest moments, Eidus's stories have serious subtexts of isolation, addiction, abuse and despair." —Publishers Weekly
"Janice Eidus is more entertaining than the Marquis de Sade in a dress. Her juxtaposition of emotion-from the brazenly wicked to the ardently tender- will leave the reader breathless. The Celibacy Club is definitely a club you will want to join." —Lucinda Ebersole and Richard Peabody, co-editors of Mondo Barbie"Eidus' powerful stories about men and women waging silent was against the culture have the eerie effect of waking us up even though we didn't know we were sleeping." —Hal Sirowitz, Author of Mother Said
Janice Eidus, winner of two O. Henry Prizes, is the author of a novel Faithful Rebecca, and the short story collections Vito Loves Geraldine, and The Celibacy Club. She lives in New York City.