Woof Woof (book reviews)

Written By: sherridaley - • •

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Usually, I hate short stories.  Just about when I get involved with the characters, the story ends.  However, I just finished two (yup, TWO) short story collections that I loved.  Really loved.  Enough to go back to the library and get earlier books by both authors, who happen to be women … another oddity for me.  There once was a time I didn’t read any women except Doris Lessing and Anais Nin. But I was stupid back then.

BARK by Lorrie Moore is her first collection  since Birds of America fifteen years ago, which I didn’t read only because I didn’t read the New York Times’ review which called it “fluid, cracked, mordant, colloquial …” adjectives which would have sent me screaming to the bookstore with my pocketbook. BARK had me at the page right after the dedication – you know, that page where authors put their favorite quotations lifted from obscure books which seem to have no connection with the book at hand.  Moore quotes Amy Gerstler, “Don’t be gruff. Anything that falls on the floor is mine.”

These stories deal with love, lack of it, longing for it, remembering it, creating it … you name it. Each story closes in on itself like a fist, separate, powerful, and fierce.

The stranger of the two books  is THE UNAMERICANS by Molly Antopol. Here, whatever love and discord talked about is set in faraway countries.  Well, far away from America, that is.  There’s war, there’s dying, there’s pain and nausea and hopelessness.  No need to know anything about these countries – people are people, no matter where they live – but the foreign settings bring a sort of brilliance to the plots, something unexpected, maybe a little strange, so that something which may have seemed ordinary on a street in, say, Pittsburgh has a poignancy, a loftiness, and sometimes grittiness.  The book jacket calls the characters “deeply sympathetic” and they are.

My advice.  Read them both. ASAP.


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