Many of the stories have, as a central theme, some sort of loss, whether of a loved one or yourself, yet I never felt overwhelmed by this theme. Ultimately what I took from the stories was the sense of hope at the end of them. That while someone may have suffered a loss of some sort, there was something, however simple that act may be, that showed a move toward the light again~the feeling that life goes on. A few of the stories brought tears to my eyes, others a smile. Melanie’s writing is hauntingly beautiful. Her words flow onto the page, making you want more. Her descriptive language giving you in depth knowledge of the emotions being felt in each story. One of my favorite quotes…
- ‘Maybe I just think in terms of books because I read them, constantly, both to myself and to Elizabeth at the hospital. In my life before the accident, I had been a librarian and I loved the solace of finding a quiet place between the shelves, of dust-jackets turned filmy and dull, the musty scent of yellowing pages, the treasury of old words kept and stamped and passed down in an orderly fashion. Like the changing of the guard, from one generation to the next.’ (pg 13, The Simplest of Acts And Other Stories)
I had several favorite stories but I’ll highlight only a couple…
- An Ordinary Evening~the story opens with a mother watching her daughter laying in a hosptial bed. There’s been an accident. Grief, hopelessness abound. However, small acts of moving on can take you from not wanting to go on to trying to take a step forward.
- Shoes, Falling~a single mother trying to bring up her daughter. There’s an accident, she’s hurt. How will she get by? How will she support her child and herself, made even harder by the fact that she’s much too nice a person and very trusting. Funny how things happen though and people come through for you and do nice things that help you get by.
- I had several other favorites~Only in Bellington, And Then She Went Home, Milk and The Simplest of Acts. These stories each touched me in some way.
I really enjoyed Melanie’s writing style. As I read the last sentence of each story I would have liked it to go on, yet I was not left wondering about what might have happened. The stories are all wrapped up nicely. I hope to see more from Melanie, maybe even a full length novel in her future. I would definitely check it out and I would recommend this one for those who like short stories or even those who aren’t as fond of them like me, but who was very pleasantly surprised and glad I read it. You can buy Melanie’s novel here.
I do like short stories but haven’t been reading alot since letting my LitMag subscriptions run out…
Glad you were able to find a few stories more to your liking from this collection.
Well – YAY! I’m so glad you enjoyed this collection, Dar. 🙂
I’ve found that there are quite a few short stories out there that are really wonderful and wouldn’t make very good full-length novels either. Of course this can go either way but I’m glad you enjoyed these!
This sounds like something I’d like. I’m putting in on my TBR list immediately. Thanks for the review.
I love that quote. I like short story books for times when I have a short attention span!
Dave at Read Street says
Dar, this sounds like a great book. I don’t read many short stories, but I recently finished two collections: Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Loss was an important theme in both collections; in fact, I could only read a couple stories at a time or else I would have become too depressed.
You’ve made me curious enough to want to read these. I loved that quote. Very true and heartfelt!! Excellent review Dar and thanks again!!
Glad you enjoyed this one Dar, it does sound good.
p.s. I have a new puppy! he and Buddy can be online BFF’s lol
Thanks for your comments everyone. Dave, I’ll definitely check out those two books. Thanks and thanks for popping in. Hope you visit again.
Sheri S. says
Great review! I really enjoyed this collection of short stories as well!
Here is a link to my review: http://bookopolis.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-review-simplest-of-acts-and-other.html
I hope the endings weren’t wrapped up too nicely…that would grate on my nerves. But seriously, sounds like a good collection of short stories.
Teddy Rose says
Lovely review Dar. I use to feel the same way about short stories and mostly avoided them. However after reading Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri (a favorite) , my opinion changed. I realized that the art of short story is more dificult then writing a novel. Some authors are better at it than others and some should stick to novels.
It sounds like this collection is worth while and I added it to my TBR.
Serena, I wouldn’t say they were wrapped up too nicely but enough that they didn’t leave me frustrated.
Teddy, I’d like to read Interpreter of Maladies one of these days. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I’m still more of a fan of the novel though.
I think I’m going to check this one out. I’m curious about the character development you mention. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.
Diary of an Eccentric
Anna, I hope you’ll like it if you get to read it. I’m sure some would think the stories sad but I found the hope too. I had put my copy up for the read-a-thon as a giveaway. I wish I had known you were interested, I would have sent it to you. Sorry.
Dar, please don’t worry about it! Believe me, I have enough books in my house already to keep me occupied for years. 🙂
Diary of an Eccentric