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.