Or not. It's that time of the month, and I'm feeling a bit of insomnia coming on.
It's funny. I was never really into short story collections in the past. Certainly, I never read them as a child, even while I was devouring novels by Anne Rice and Victor Hugo in my pre-teens. Nowadays, though, I find that I'm in the mood for them every once in awhile. Plowing right through an entire collection of short stories can be quite pleasant, especially during a bout of attention-deficit--the transition from story to story snaps the reader back onto task.Haslett, Adam. You Are Not a Stranger Here. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2002.Summary
: A collection of nine short stories.Comments
: Though the stories jump back and forth across the Atlantic in locale, they are all written in the same uncomplicated, numb language. United by themes of mental illness and (closeted) homosexuality, none of them are particularly unique or original--and I can tell already that none of these stories are going to persist long in my memory. There was a heck of a lot of privilege stomping around in these pages, too; boarding schools, summer homes, "smart" homes, etc. The best of the lot is the first story, "Notes to My Biographer," where a crazy father confronts his son, who turns out to be at war with his own madness, afraid that he will lose his lover to it. The last and longest story, "The Volunteer" sports the impressively original *sarcastic* punchline: Even the white and wealthy can be miserable. So glad to hear it. What disturbed me most, though, was how disaffected the stories were; situations that called for powerful emotions--a brother and sister in love with the same man but unwilling to give each other up, a boy who has lost both of his parents and seeks oblivion in a sadomasochistic relationship with a classmate--call for strong emotions...yet, in Haslett's stories, they just float right on by as if hardly worthy of comment at all. I've seen other authors treat similar setups to much better effect. Haslett has potential as a writer, but he needs to mature substantially--and I suspect that he needs to live more life so that he can draw more on his experiences in lieu of his imagination. The best prose writers tend to be older, so he has plenty of time. Notes
: hardcover, Today Show Book Club editionRating
- Good for those who enjoy the art of the short story, but nothing here is going to wholly devour your attention.