Gail Godwin

Short Stories by Gail Godwin

Dream Children Dream Children

Published 1976


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The first collection by the author of The Odd Woman, Glass People, and The Perfectionists -- fifteen stories exploring the power, and perils, of the inner life: imagination and fantasy, hallucination and obsession, vision and dream.

In the title story, "Dream Children," a childless woman discovers that in a certain twilight region of her existence she is a mother, and comes to find all her happiness in the fleeting, mystical moments when she is visited by her son. The carefully guarded secret makes her life both precious and precarious. Suddenly, she is "a woman in a dream, living only in the realm where they meet.

In "Some Side-Effects of Time Travel," Gretchen Brown, whirling from place to place and from one vertiginous state of mind to another, anchors her life with a few trusty stabilization points. Among them, her marvelous dreams, overlapping the day light world, " providing her with clues to what she must do next reminding her whom she really loves and really hates, forming hard gemlike little stories that reverberate with meanings."

In "Nobody's Home," a middle-aged woman thinks of a small impersonal story ("One day there was a wife who absented herself from her home and, unbeknownst to her husband, went and lived across the street") and fantasizes a life as her husband's neighbor, peering at him, watching to see what will happen when she goes. In "A Sorrowful Woman," a wife and mother gazes at her husband and small son -- "the husband durable, receptive, gentle; the child a tender golden three" -- and abruptly, terribly, begins to withdraw from them until she can go no further. Violet, the happy bride in "False Lights," writes to her husband's first wife as if they were already comfortably in the future she envisions: "nobody's happiness depleting any one else's, all of us sailing through change as effortlessly as gulls through air."

The clear, unerring vision that has won such praise for Gail Godwin's novels is reflected in these piercing, intricate stories about people who inhabit their minds as places -- private, familiar, their true homes.


"Compelling, beautiful. . .Miraculous. . . Astonishing. . . So deeply satisfying, as to be breathtaking."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"In Dream Children, Gail Godwin shows her capabilities as a clear-seeing uncoverer of thought. . . . What she knows about the workings of the human mind as it deals with grand tragedies, tiny sorrows, she knows with conviction."
--The Christian Science Monitor

"The work of a writer who is moving confidently to the forefront of contemporary American fiction."
--The Miami Herald

"The stories are all. . . detailed with expertise and frosted with elegance."
--Kirkus Reviews

Ballantine Books | Paperback| 288 pages