Truth and Other Fictions
 by Eva Tihanyi

Inanna Publications 2009 Paperback
First collection

Eva Tihanyi left Budapest where she was born in 1956 to live in Canada. She has authored five books of poetry, and worked as a journalist from 1978 to 2008, when she began devoted her time to her poetry and fiction. She is currently at work on a sixth volume of poetry and a second short story collection. She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets. She teaches at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario where she currently lives.

Read an interview with Eva Tihanyi

"You don’t quite know what happens. You meet Gillian’s eyes and are suddenly overcome with giddiness, can’t resist commenting on the jubilant cherries, their lusciousness, their heat, their sweet red darkness. Courvoisier. The sensual French rolls off your tongue like a purr. I prefer Courvoisier. You pause. On my cherries."

Reviewed by Michelle Reale.

Tihanyi’s fiction is mainly focused on the often tumultuous state of women’s relationships to men . Reaching back in time to the famous artists and painters who used women’s bodies for both their art and pleasure and coming right into the present, Tihanyi deftly shows how women navigate the rough terrain and put up a fight. She paints her own portraits of the desires of men and women operating at cross purposes, often with heartbreaking results.

But Tinhanyi has not been all one-sided here. These are not stories of bad, bad men and good, good women, but rather a glimpse into how human nature operates, often by rote. We are what we think we are, and we behave as we are expected to.

In Green is the Most Difficult Color, the artist, presumably Picasso, seduces the young girl who makes a delivery to his studio. She was warned by her father to "be careful" but is taken in by the essence of who he was: a man and a famous artist at that. They size one another up:
He stared back. We were both bold, I fuelled by innocence, he by its opposite. I was tall for my age and fair, my adolescent awkwardness camouflaged by an unapologetic, unflagging curiosity. Even back then I looked lie in the eye. I must have been a surprise to him, though, the blonde hair, the summery green dress, the bright cherry earrings (my favorites).
In these thirteen stories, we meet both the famous and the nameless as they engage themselves in dedication to work, try to live up to an ideal of who they should be and finding the perfect person to love. The women in these stories often find satisfaction with one another, turning their backs on what society expects of them and the men who seem to thwart every one of their efforts to fine their own place in the world.

In Tihanyi’s world, though, even satisfaction comes at a price, which says more about the inherent dangers in simply living as a woman than it does any particular ideology she set out to exert on the reader. Even her scenarios from past time exemplify universal themes that anyone, on either side of the divide, would be able to relate to.

It is a well known scenario, repeated hundreds of times in the life of a master, but in Tihanyi’s deft hands, we see the scene through the eyes of the girl, in retrospect, with remorse, but only a touch of bitterness. Perhaps that is what makes these stories so satisfying: she does not set up staunch polarities between the sexes, engages in no real polemics here. Instead, she paints her own portraits of the realities inherent in women’s lives’ and the men, for better or for worse, they either run from or make their peace with situations as they are. The character Meg, in Hemingway and the Buddha states it plain: "Everything is a matter of degree, she thinks. How badly you burn, what you settle for, what you are willing to give up.

michelle reale is an academic librarian on faculty at a university in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her fiction has been published in Eyeshot, elimae, Word Riot, Pank, Monkeybicycle and many others. Her fiction chapbook, Natural Habitat, will be published by Burning River in the spring of 2010.

Michelle's other Short Reviews: Sana Krasikov "One More Year"

Jody Lisberger "Remember Love"

Anne Donovan "Hieroglyphics"

Joan Aiken "The Serial Garden"

Shellie Zacharia "Now Playing
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