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Wait Till We Get Our Haines on You

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 8, 2006 2:31PM

Haines_9_8.jpgMaybe we’re old fashioned. Maybe we‘re frustrated or tired. Or maybe, we’re just not getting it.

In her new novel “Small Acts of Sex and Electricity”, Lise Haines introduces us to two old friends, Mattie and Jane. Mattie has often stood in Jane’s shadow, adoring Jane’s children and coveting Jane’s husband. One day, Jane abandons her life and leaves Mattie behind to take her place. The novel explores the relationship between the two women, why Jane left and why Mattie actually considers staying.

Haines, a native of Chicago, rebelliously ditches quotation marks when writing dialogue. In this conversation, Mattie begs Jane to stay and talk before Jane takes off for good:

-Get out of the car and talk
-You’re getting a good trade … What’s the name of the TV show? She asked.
-What TV show?
-Where the two friends switch places, she said.
-You mean, houses?
-Us. I mean us, everything. Mike, the girls. You know, like a kit-home. Easy to assemble.
-Easy to what?
-You’ll be more efficient than me.
-More efficient at your life? That’s bizarre.

We found her Mamet-like pacing to be a bit confusing at times, leading us around in arcs of language we weren’t fully able to comprehend. But Haines’ prose brought us back to the story, and we were thankful for lines such as “the air turned to a quiet citronella hell”.

But overall, the disjointed dialogue and the larger than slice-of-life story kept us separated from Haines’ characters. We never really touched the intimacy of the friendship, their loves and their pains. Shortly after putting down “Small Acts of Sex and Electricity” we forgot about Mattie and Jane, and couldn’t find the impetus to remember them again.

You can see Lise Haines at Women and Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark, Mon., Sept. 11., at 7:30PM. (773)769-9299.