In this collection of twelve dazzling and sensual stories, Pamela Rafael Berkman explores the perplexities of contemporary life through the eyes of women searching for love, truth, and faith. In the title story, a group of coworkers who order miniature plastic nuns rumored to bring love suffer surprising and disheartening consequences. In "Tat," the heroine gets an elaborate Victorian valentine tattooed on her arm and learns the real meaning of wearing her heart on her sleeve. And in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown," the classic holiday program brings temporary peace to a troubled young woman. Throughout, miracles and revelations abound, appearing in the most unexpected places -- a planetarium on a college campus, a yuppie Christmas party, a silversmith's booth at an outdoor fair, a corner bar on Halloween. In capturing the dilemmas and difficulties of our times, Berkman brings to life the eternal longings of the human heart.
The rituals of young urban women (office games, TV watching, parties, dating) mesh with darker ceremonies (tattooing, witchcraft, self-mutilation) in this collection of 12 fresh and vibrant stories. In "Tat," gaudy Liberty is tattooed with an antique valentine and finds herself transported by the experience: "it seems to her that everyone she knows is so full of love and suffering, so very full, that it overflows into wounds." Liberty is just one of Berkman's self-aware, vividly theatrical and faintly goth protagonists. Elizabeth, in "Gold Glitter," slathers herself with gold glitter gel for Halloween and hooks up with a devil at a costume party. In "Holy Holy Holy," the protagonist lets a temp at her office perform an evangelical healing ceremony over her carpal tunnel afflicted wrist. The rites of Catholicism surface in a few stories, including "Veronica," in which disaffected teen Ronnie shares a moment of understanding with her Catholic school teacher, Sister Veronica. In the title story, the protagonist and several of her office mates share a set of plastic nuns and decide that each time one of the nuns fall over, they will be lucky in love. The system seems to work, but when various affairs sour, hate e-mails circulate around the office ("Nuns, a haiku/ Fuck that fucking nun"). Some of the other stories end too abruptly, but Berkman (Her Infinite Variety) has an uncanny understanding of a particular contemporary subclass of young women and captures them empathically and vividly.