Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
Do you ever play this game? I do not read enough…(fill in the blank: poetry, literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, comic books). Today, for me, it is short stories.
That was proven again when I decided to believe in the award and read the 2011 Mary McCarthy winner for Short Fiction, L. Annette Binder. Coincidentally, the juror for this prize was none other than Laura Kasischke whose (I do not read enough) poetry collection, Space, In Chains, so fascinated me I thought it might make a great selection for a book discussion.
Not only is Kasischke an interesting poet but she is also a fine judge of the short story because the collection Rise is amazingly good. Kasischke, in the Foreword, says “things are what they are, and they fail to astonish.” Kasischke makes the point it becomes L. Annette Binder’s task to enlighten and entertain around the daily and make it something special.
Binder manages that with great ease for the reader by applying all of her storytelling skills to each individual featured in each story. These are not happy people but rather folks with issues leading to frustration, melancholia and despair. Their stories are told with an artistic flair that makes reading these stories like floating.
Of course, I have my favorites in the collection like “Shelter” which deals with the meaning of home, neighbors, revenge and the future. There are three strories in a row in the book that just knocked me back: “Weights and Measures” about a man searching within himself for the reason he cannot fly, “Mourning Departed” where a man’s hobby of attending funerals turns funereal and “Sidewinder” in which a young boy finds solace in an angel’s tears while danger lurks in his own home. Here is my favorite quote from the book, contained in the story “Halo” where a young boy believes that there is magic in numbers: “He was holding up heaven with his numbers. He was keeping the halos away.”
There will be no issues with using this collection for a book discussion. Each story has endless possibilities and should lead to a very enjoyable night for all.
Now, if I only had time to read more…