CBR11 BINGO: The Collection (BINGO! Remix corner to Summer Read corner)
I don’t generally read very many short story collections. I like to dig into a story and often short fiction robs me of that a little bit. I’m invested and then it’s over. I think that’s why I tend to gravitate towards short story collections that are somehow linked by character or place. The connection is more satisfying for me. While Chabon’s collection here is not linked in that way, the stories are linked, in many ways, by circumstance.
Several of the characters struggle with demons from their childhood: parental expectations, bullying, and the death of a parent. Others carry the burden of a lost child or the death of a marriage. An awkward young boy, struggling with the separation of his parents, is both drawn to and ashamed of the odd boy next door who tries to befriend him. A grown man, scarred by the expectations of his father, worries about the future of his newborn brother. A father, haunted by a childhood impulse, distances himself from his wife and daughter. Everyday lives elevated by good storytelling. Domestic tragedies delivered with grace.
Over the years I have read many of his books, but have tended to pace them out. Chabon is another writer that I have to really focus on. He doesn’t write stories so much as construct them and can encapsulate emotional complexity in the tersest of sentences with the richest vocabulary. This is made even more evident in his shorter fiction, I think.
I highly recommend the book. He does shoe horn a weird Steven King-esque story at the end of the book that has a tie in to Wonder Boys. I found it a bit puzzling and unnecessary but otherwise the stories are solid and still feel timely and relevant after 20 years.
Check out Cannonball Read 11. Lots of reviews from lots of good people and all for a good cause.