Kate Wheeler's stories feature peripatetic Americans who seek love or enlightenment - or both - in far-flung corners of the globe. A startling mixture of gentle irony, mischievous humor, and unexpected danger marks the paths of all these characters as they follow their circuitous routes toward happiness. As the New York Times said, "Wheeler has a capacity for compressing the insights of cross-cultural dislocation into deliciously memorable epiphanies."
About the Author
KATE WHEELER was named a "Best Young American Novelist" by Granta. Raised in South America, her debut collection, Not Where I Started From, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book. She is the recipient of a Whiting Award, an NEA fellowship, and a Guggenheim fellowship.
"Two stories in Wheeler's impressive first collection take locus from her own experience as a (now disrobed) Buddhist nun in Burma--``Under the Roof'' and ``Ringworm''-- and these have an unstrained shapeliness born of intimate knowledge. Here and in other stories, too, Wheeler's spiritual pilgrims aren't airheads, not particularly ``lost'' in the tangible world; nor do they set themselves up for the disappointments they meet. Just the right blend of realism (``Over here''--referring to India--``causality was cooked up in one's blind spot'') and ardor informs their religious dreams. But this is due less to the inherent subject matter of asceticism, gurus, and inner vows than to Wheeler's fine general knack for what the Russian formalists used to call ``making it strange.'' Her stories of an American girl's life growing up in South America--``Improving My Average,'' ``Urbino''--have the same spiky shifts of tone, and are thus allowed to seem more random and convincing than the ordinary culture-transplant story. Wheeler's wise eye and style--at times comparable to Mavis Gallant's in effect--are so sharp they sometimes get away from her (``If only I could have photographed the jellied chunk of time I spent under Miami Aiport, waiting for the rental agency's minibus. Concourses coiled overhead like the labyrinth of an enormous cement ear....The light, fibrillating green fluorescence was interrupted by slashes of void between which too tan women walked past toward imminent reunions...'')--but letting too little sneak by is no literary sin, especially in a debut collection. Strong, messy, frequently indelible work by a new talent." -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. Kirkus Reviews
"Wheeler illuminates all the stories in this, her debut collection, with keen insights, sly ironies, and the occasional perverse twist of fate. Even the most somber gleam like polished jade." Entertainment Weekly