Composed of 11 vignettes hung on the realisation that a relationship, a marriage or a casual affair has run its course, Walking On Ice is deeply pessimistic cycle of short stories. From a birthday party at which a six-year-old discovers that her mother is having an affair, to a honeymoon couple’s encounter with a fortune teller in Jerusalem, Branca dissects unsettling epiphanies and exposes the fragility of sexual desire and the misplaced expectation of compatibility. Although the descriptions of the glamour, professional fulfillment and material prosperity of her female characters is sometimes clumsy, Branca is brutally honest in her exposure of the myth that love and sex can be managed rationally.
Branca shows her versatility in this fine collection of stories. As hinted in the title, the recurring theme of the book is emotional precariousness. A six year old child overhears people gossiping that her mother has a lover. A bride experiences the first flickerings of doubt. Branca shows a keen understanding of those moments on which whole lives pivot.
Branca is brutally honest in her exposure of the myth that love and sex can be managed rationally.
Each of the short stories in this compilation has a unique style. You don’t need to read it all at once, but you’ll probably want to.