by Pauline Masurel
There are eight stories in this collection, stories in which things are
falling apart, often repeatedly. Many are first person narratives, so
we're right in there with the small town community, school class, or
drinking in Thirsty's bar, seeing events unfold from the point of view
of an insider. There are a lot of touchingly drawn parent and child
relationships in these stories, but there are couples and singletons
too. For the most part they are character-driven tales, rich in
dialogue. Typically, we meet an interesting individual, or a few of
them, they get neatly sketched and then they begin to interact. Before
you know it a story is underway in the unfolding. Perhaps this is one
of the repetition patterns of the title.
Tanzer's pen portraits of people
are one of the joys of this book. In The Gift, Fern is a
woman who revels in soundscapes.
"Fern liked motorcycle boots, black
and scuffed, and she liked to wear them with long flowing skirts. She
liked her brown hair short, with a slight part to the side, a few spare
tendrils sneaking out behind her ears. She rarely wore makeup, but
liked to pluck her eyebrows, the better for raising them Belushi-style
when feigning surprise, awe, or self-mockery. She liked Hello Kitty.
And the band Cake. She liked the movie Mermaids so much she saw it
There are plenty of other curiously obsessive characters in this
collection. There's George the video game hero, Billy who's dedicated
to the pursuit of Amy's boobs, and the music teacher who watches his
female students "like a panhandler staring through the window of a
restaurant at a hot, open-faced turkey sandwich."
Some of these stories might seem
inconsequential. They're about tiny happenings or changes. People long
for something, they grow up or move away. But the detail is beguiling,
and often something dark or unusual is happening behind closed doors –
the older sister who plays breathing games with the baby, the father
who insists on giving visiting children a goodnight kiss, or the
husband who sleeps with all of his neighbors' wives.
I haven't so far mentioned the
format of the collection. It has been
published as an electronic download in .pdf format and the reader can
name their own price. So you have literally nothing to lose by
downloading this book and giving it a try. And you can do as I have
done, download a copy for free and then go back and pay for it if
you've enjoyed reading it.
This book would only be forty A4
if you chose to print it out but I found the collection ideal to read
on my new netbook and never bothered to produce a paper copy. My main
observation about this e-format production is that I was disappointed
to find quite a number of quirky typos scattered throughout the book,
or at least there were as it appeared on my screen. Given how easy it
is to revise an electronic format, I'm surprised that this hadn't been
corrected, particularly as a number of them appear in the first few
pages. But push past this minor distraction and enjoy the book for all
that it's worth to you.
Read an excerpt from this collection in the BluePrint Review.
Download this short story
collection as an EBook from CCLaP
Masurel lives happily ever after. She has
golden hair that sports a few strands of silver. The dirt beneath her
fingernails matches that on her knees. Her story Song
Without Words is published in the new InkerMen
Press anthology, Loss, and more of her writings hang out at
Center for Literature and Photograpy
bio: Ben Tanzer lives in Chicago and is author of the novels Lucky Man and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine. He is a keen blogger and also edits This Zine Will Change Your Life.
with Ben Tanzer
this book (used or
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Jody Lisberger "Remember Love"
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other reviewers thought:
Time Out Chicago