This National Book Award finalist is a short story collection by an author I was not familiar with. As usual, my friend Tom, known for helping meet quality authors, brought him to my attention literally on my thirtieth birthday. I am so glad he did.
My initial reaction to the short stories in this novel was somewhat negative as I thought here we had yet another author working through his issues from childhood. However, while many of his stories still strike me as such, they really are pleasurable to read. I think the author’s technique is what I find so attractive about this work.
His stories are completely relatable. We’ve all felt, experienced, or imagined at least on a peripheral level the plights of his characters, and so it is not terribly difficult for us to become personally invested in them. And trust me, some of these stories we will be quite humiliated to find familiar.
Another talent the author has is the ability to make us feel as though we’ve gone on an epic voyage by the end of one of his short stories, yet we then realize it was only a few pages long! I think some writers have an intangible quality that sets them apart from other authors and Chaon’s is certainly the skill to give us a total and complete story without telling us hardly anything at all.
I really enjoyed this book and if you like reading short story collections I think Chaon will satisfy.