Jean McGarry has been praised for her "deft, comic, and devastatingly precise portraits" ( New York Times Book Review) and as "a writer who honors the human condition" ( Baltimore Sun). In her new collection of stories, Dream Date, she focuses her skills as a "gifted observer" (Publishers Weekly) on the delicate boundary that separates the real from the ethereal states we drift into and out of as we try to make sense of our relationships, romantic and otherwise, with the other sex. Funny and haunting in equal measure―and suffused with a hint of the surreal―McGarry's stories explore the confusions, contradictions, and calamities of the modern relationship: in "Paris," a woman tracks down her wayward husband in the City of Lights and ends up having a meeting of minds with his mistress that gives great satisfaction to both women; in "Moon, June," a woman stalks the wardrobe of a wealthy socialite in a consignment shop, opening up a world of polymorphous delight and fashion envy; and in "The Secret of His Sleep," a man wakes up after forty years to a reality that is at once strangely familiar and completely unexpected. In these wry fictions, real-world problems often have solutions fashioned with the stunning clarity and logic of a dream.
A particular Dream Date story, told in the first-person is about a girl who comes to live with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in their famous artist’s colony and home on the Rue de Fleurus in Paris. Gertrude and Alice were legendary in their own time, and even more so, when Gertrude wrote her famous novel, anti-novel, *The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas* and signed it Gertrude Stein. Gertrude liked to experiment and the idea of an autobiography of her dearest friend and lover, written by herself seemed just right to her. The other thing we know about them is they entertained all the luminaries in Paris in the 20’s
Hemingway, Pound, Fitzgerald, Wallace Stevens, Picasso and his girlfriends and wives, matisse, etc. etec.
Everyone went. So, my fantasy was that I went, too. Or my character went. My character is a very, very skinny child who seems to know everything of what’s going on and just wants to be there for a while. But, how long can a person from the late 20th century live with those luminaries from the first? Not too long. The bubble must eventually burst, and of course, it does. I think of this story as a mosaic of names, places, and famous words about famous people. Once it started coming, I couldn’t stop it.