WOMEN IN BED by Jessica Keener

When I read I want to plunge inside another person’s life until mine fades into the background, as if forgotten. My need to be someone else is why I became an actress. Short stories hamper my need to escape. At least, that’s what I believed until a few weeks ago. Thanks to Amy Sue Nathan, the author of The Glass Wives and creator of the blog, Women’s Fiction Writers, I won a copy of Jessica Keener’s collected shorts, Women in Bed; a little book strong enough to widen my literary choices.

I learned Jessica Keener writes the way great composers shape symphonies when I read her debut novel, Night Swim and her short stories prove I was not mistaken.

Her eyes are grey speckled: smooth stones lying next to the sea. 

Women in Bed ebbs and flows, dives and soars, but first it shakes you out of the comatose way you’ve been living and shows you the truth about life.

A waitress, an independent filmmaker and a girl in a hospital are some of the women who have nothing in common, while sharing the most important moments of their lives. All of these women are at crossroads, on the edge of nowhere facing relationships and situations we often turn away from, hoping the problem will go away through avoidance. These women do not turn away. They face the conflict and move through it by choice.

I held on to the bedrails for cold comfort, waited there and listened to the rumblings under my skin. 

These unforgettable women may start out comatose, but when they emerge from their beds the light shines differently. The sun bounces at acute angles to broaden their awareness and delivers an unexpected mindfulness to influence them for the rest of their lives.

Although the title sounds erotic you will find nothing risqué between the pages, though you may still need a cigarette or a drink afterward. Jessica Keener has found a way to touch on the restless and unsteady qualities of life we overlook, by simply observing the world with better than perfect vision. Her life lens is sharp, often unflattering and 100% spellbinding.

Women in Bed  delivers short stories with depth on impact.