Fiction, short story

From the Midway

Let me state right up front I like books like this, and Leaf Seligman hits all the right parts with me.  From the Midway: Unfolding Stories of Redemption and Belonging is not quite short stories in that they are connected with characters travelling in and out each vignette (reminding me of Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson).  It’s not quite a novel either.  That may be a challenge for readers who prefer one style over the other.  I’m not one of those readers.  Let me be clear of one thing.  The writing in this book is just plain good.  Seligman has her finger on the pulse of speech, particularly that of the American South which has different dialects, vocabulary, and speech patterns.

The thematic setting of a midway is compelling.  There’s a difference between a circus and a midway and once the reader understands that, there should be no confusion of the subject matter and who the individuals that occupy that world are.  I love this world.  It’s full of vibrant, interesting characters.  And while their “oddities” may be the crowd draw, Seligman does a good job making these attractions the people who they are – with feelings, fears, and aspirations that are universal, even if their physical oddity is not.  We all can relate to these situations and thoughts that the characters share with us.

The challenge with creating worlds like is that it can be one note – with  everything seeming the same.  That may not be for some readers, though I didn’t mind it.  The book was a wonderful read that leaves an indelible impression.

I received an early copy of the book in exchange for a review.

Advertisements
Fiction

Einstein’s Beach House and other well-told stories

Einstein’s Beach House” is a collection of short stories by Jacob M. Appel. This is the second work I’ve reviewed for Appel. The first was a novel, “Millard Salter’s Last Day” which I reviewed for this site in December 2017. Now having read two of his works, I can say Appel is definitely in the running for becoming one of my favorite authors. One of the most endearing qualities of his writing appears to be taking the morbid, depressingly confusing, or otherwise awful experiences in human life and making them some of the most mundane background elements of the stories he tells.

Appel’s style takes an even hand between events and dialogue throughout. But each story is heavy with internal musings. The short stories in this volume display the same expert hand at bringing a reader into the narrators mind as in the Millard novel. The difference here is that Appel draws you in, let’s you feel comfortable there and then delivers with adroit brevity an entire novel of experiences in 1-2 ending sentences. These closing lines don’t leave you with questions as to how this life or lives come to fruition or end. They are complete endings in and of themselves. Some are more open ended than others but they still provide the necessary closure to allow a reader to feel comfortable having read the whole story.

I received my copy through a LibrayThing giveaway and have donated it to a little free library. This review is also available on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Instagram @reviewsbymarie.