I used to say I “didn’t really read” short stories, but this is my third collection to review so I guess I can’t say that anymore. 🙂 What I’ve come to discover is that short story writers are, quite simply, amazing. It takes a lot of skill to write a complete story in only a few pages.
I think this collection resonated with me particularly because it is set in sleepy, small towns. Its images of train tracks and tall grass blowing in the breeze made me recall growing up, tumbling through weeds and creeks in rural Arkansas.
One story in particular felt particularly close to me, Melvin. It’s MC, Shelby, reminds me of the rough and tumble little girls I used to pal around with. Her young mind deals with a lot of heavy material, and that too felt familiar to me. Growing up in the South, you experience a strange mixture of freedom and hardship, beauty and ugliness, kindness and cruelty. Anderson really captures these elements, though his settings are mostly in the Midwest.
It is clear to me that Anderson has thought long and hard about what it really means to “come of age”. His writing is thoughtful and poignant, and his descriptions will leave you feeling like you were really there. Cinematic — his writing is cinematic. In an Iñárritu (visual) way though, not in a Whedon (action) way.
I really enjoyed this collection. I wish I could have been reading on a beach because this collection does have the distinct feeling of summer attached to it, and more than that, summer evenings — perhaps purposefully. Summer is the season I associate with growing up, perhaps because summer is the season where so much is discovered, and most of that growing is done in the late afternoon into the evening, beside bonfires and in wilderness. When skin prickles from the coolness of evening yet still gives off the heat of the day. Definitely give this a read — it contains universal messages I believe anyone could enjoy.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.