This book of short stories by Audrey Kalman really resonated with me. The stories are different but deal with common issues, most related to marriage and family. Divorce was a frequent story element, and it was really interesting to see divorce explored from a number of different perspectives. Kalman looks at how family turmoil affects people throughout their lives.
There’s an everyday, “slice of life” feeling to these stories that really worked for me. Kalman leaves you wanting more in each story, and then occasionally revisits a character in the next story. There are some fantastical elements to the stories, but mostly these are people leading the same kinds of lives we do.
She has undergone a process that seems like the reverse of sexual awakening. Lah-di-dah and chips-fall-where-they-may in her early twenties. Then pregnant, glowing, blossoming with her two children in her late twenties. Competent and motherly in her thirties. Now she is forty-nine. The children are gone and she and Stone ought to be picking up where they left off before the babies. Instead they appear to have been diverted into some other couple’s life.
My favorite story was “When All Else Fails” which is actually an excerpt from one of Kalman’s novels, written from a different character’s perspective (I haven’t read the novel, What Remains Unsaid). In this story, a woman remembers the day her mother locked her father out of the house, and she worries about the effects of that on her own troubled marriage. Is she a deserter or simply taking care of herself?
For who I am. That’s how I’d like to be remembered.
Why is it so hard to know that about anyone? Because: everyone has subterranean passages filled with the crap of childhood. We paint the exterior with a glossy coat of what we think the world wants to see but it doesn’t change the inside.
Some of my favorite stories were:
Animals feature prominently in these stories, dogs and cats as companions to the characters. In one of my favorite stories, a troubled young man learns to love his deceased grandmother’s yappy little dog. In one disturbing story, a husband is reincarnated into the body of a puppy, and seeks out his former wife.
There are elements of stalking or controlling behavior in many of these stories, whether it’s about parents and children, husbands and wives, or simply strangers on the street. In these very short stories, Kalman gives us glimpses of complicated issues, never resolving them but always leaving questions in the mind of the reader.
There was so much in these stories that I could identify with, from the woman who tells a story of her life through her jewelry, to struggling to cope with the effects of divorce, to worrying whether you’re strong enough or a good enough spouse or parent. Readers who enjoyed these short stories might also enjoy the work of Rebecca Burns, such as Artefacts or Catching the Barramundi.
Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher Terrella Media. This book published August 8, 2018.
I read nearly every genre and love to talk about what I read. Some of my favorite genres are historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and children's literature. I try to read diversely and travel the world through my reading. I love books that make me feel I'm in another world -- and also books that help me to better understand this one.
Amy and Isabelle
Know My Name
With the Fire on High
The Most Fun We Ever Had
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
The Lost Man
No Visible Bruises
My Dark Vanessa
The Night Watchman
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
The Only Plane in the Sky
Clap When You Land
The House in the Cerulean Sea
So You Want to Talk About Race
The Pull of the Stars
Code Name Helene
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