Review by Willard Manus
Highly recommended is ANIMAL GIRL by John Fulton, a collection of two novellas and three stories published by LSU Press as part of its Yellow Shoe Fiction Series.
One of the novellas, The Sleeping Woman, is a love story about two wounded souls, Evelyn and Russell, who meet and enter into a strange kind of affair. A third person dominates their relationship: Russell's wife, who has been in a coma for three years as a result of an automobile accident. "As far as the doctors can tell, her brain stem is alive. The rest is gone. She's there, but she's not there," he explains guiltily (having blamed himself for the accident).
The same can be said for the love Evelyn and Russell feel for each other: it's there, but it's not there. Though strongly attracted to each other, they also repel each other, owing to the many flaws and fears in their makeup. Still, they keep trying as hard as they can to overcome their problems and become a couple.
Fulton writes movingly and gracefully about their struggle, never allowing himself to become mawkish. The same is true of the other stories in the book, especially The Animal Girl, which charts the growth of a rebellious teenager into a woman of substance.