Mini-Reviews: Short Story Collections

Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons

43152994Published by Atlantic Books, August 6th 2020

This hyper-realistic short story collection is dark and depressing and with prose not always sharp enough to work for me. The stories are mostly about people in the middle of bad decisions; not necessarily life-threatening bad decisions but rather smaller, mundane ones. Often these decisions involve neglect, neglect of their own bodies, their living environment, or most tragically their children. In subject matter it reminded me of Lidia Yuknavitch’s writing (who makes an appearance in the acknowledgements) but writing wise it could not reach her brilliance. I did not love the way Parsons wrote about weight and sadly too many of her protagonists were unkind about either their own bodies or the bodies of others.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang

P51199867._sx318_sy475_ublished by Atlantic Books, July 2019

Really really good! These mostly realistic stories worked exceedingly well for me – especially those that were told unchronologically in a way that I have not encountered in short stories before. This way of telling a story is something I particularly enjoy, so I was very pleased when I realized what Wang was doing. Not every story did work for me but enough did that I will be reading whatever she writes next. I also cannot get over the absolutely stunning cover.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How To Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

51323315._sy475_Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, April 16th 2020

I enjoyed these stories a lot with their thoughtful explorations on families, focussing on the lives of Laos immigrants and their children. I particularly enjoyed that the parents depicted really do try to do the best for their children (especially contrasted to the horrible parents in this years crop of Women’s Prize longlisted books) even if they sometimes miss the mark or sometimes cannot be the parent they would love to be if they had more time/ money/ knowledge.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch

45280901Published by Riverhead Books, February 2020

Sadly disappointing. My expectations were mile-high: I love Yuknavitch’s writing and had been anticipating her first short story collection in years (her earlier ones are our of print and I haven’t manage to find a copy yet) but while her prose is sharp as ever, for some reasons many of these stories did not work for me. Part of that has to do with the inherent cynicism of her stories that was not tempered by the endless capacity for empathy that her other books of hers I read possessed. I left the collection feeling kind of sad.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars