The Pillow Friend

Lisa Tuttle

White Wolf/ Borealis. $21.95

"Be careful what you wish for. You might get it."

And Agnes Grey does make wishes which come true: a live porcelain doll that talks, a horse of her own, a dream of a poet who loves her. Some of her wishes have consequences immediate and obvious. Others reverberate throughout her life, with unexpected effects when she least expects it.

The first four chapters of The Pillow Friend are more like related but distinct short stories, rather than arbitrary divisions in a novel. Indeed, one chapter, "Making Magic," is a genuine short story, supposedly written by Agnes, and another, "In the Woods," is almost an object lesson in wishing and consequences. Only later does a more complete sense of the overall novel emerge (along with more conventional chapters), and author Lisa Tuttle skillfully draws on earlier situations -- Aunt Marjorie, the dream-Alex, and most importantly the Myles doll -- as effortlessly as if The Pillow Friend had been a smooth, continuous creation all along.

In many respects, it resembles a fairy tale of a darker, sexual nature. At the end, especially, the symbolism becomes heavy and murky, and the line (if there ever was one) between Agnes' reality and fantasy even less clear. The Pillow Friend is a quick, often disturbing novel, and quite obviously not to everyone's taste.


This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris

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