Nancy Jensen's debut collection "Window" compels you to stay with the author from start to finish. This is a unique hybrid book of five short stories and five essays. I picked up the book intending to read only one piece (I started with the essays) at a sitting, and was chagrined to find I'd read the whole book in an afternoon and the next morning. (Chagrined because I felt like a kid who snuck her family's entire quart of ice-cream!) I'd tried to get up and do other things, but found myself ruminating on the pieces as I gardened or vacuumed, wondering how the author tied so many disparate points together into satisfying and intriguing resolutions. Jensen seems at home with conflict, and is not afraid to face struggles within herself that compel the reader to take similar stock. Conflicts define and lay bare the souls of Jensen's characters, like the History professor who's ashamed of his Appalachian roots, so advises students to look forward, not back. The student protagonist recognizes him as a fool, because in denying his personal history, the professor gives the lie to his own chosen field.
Such charletons are laid bare in this book, like the art professor who's an armchair liberal, yet traffics in the vast power differential between himself and his student lovers and third-world servants. Yet in the midst of these highly flawed characters, the author never lets herself off, is hardest on herself when examining her own biases and evasions. This is an intriguing search and the author makes some stunning discoveries. I highly recommend this unique and compelling collection.