The Secret Names of Women 

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“Each story is a little masterpiece of wit, realism and invention, peopled with characters who seem drawn from contemporary life—life as it is lived in strip malls, along interstates, in nightclubs, roadside attractions.... If one of these stories stands above the rest, it would have to be "The Former Star Carlson," about a young woman who marries a foreign student in her apartment house so he can obtain a green card. With almost incredible economy, Barrett sketches in a large cast of characters—friends, immigration lawyers, INS inspectors—along with significant emotional reversals to tell a story that is as sweet and uplifting as it is utterly realistic and believable. The pleasure offered by these stories is genuine and immense; by the end, the primary criticism most readers will have is that The Secret Names of Women contains only eight stories instead of 16 or 24. —Chauncey Mabe, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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