Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, by David Islay

Find in catalog“Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” is a another StoryCorps book I read this summer. It’s a collections of transcribed short interviews of people talking about jobs and careers. This book was a quick read. It had a variety of touching stories that showed people’s commitment to their occupations. I recommend this book to people who like to learn about people’s lives, and who like to read short stories.

Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman

Find in catalogMy second Lucky Day find by Neil Gaiman. And I’m so glad to have discovered his work. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was stellar, so I gladly latched onto Trigger Warning. It is a collection of 25 short stories and poems. I recommend skipping the back story info for each piece in the introduction. I went back to read a few of them, but the stories stand on their own and let you come to your own thoughts on how they might have come to be or what they might mean. For me, “Black Dog,” “The Truth in the Cave in the Black Mountains,” and “Adventure Story” were the best of the collection. They deal with evil, revenge and what constitutes unusual (seeing an old teacher or having a totem sought by aliens)l. All three are dark but have lyrical writing and twists enough to leave you puzzling about humankind. In contrast, “Making a Chair” (poem) and “The Thing About Cassandra” made me laugh out loud. “Cassandra,” a made-up girlfriend to get friends and family off his back, had a real surprise element that I love in short stories and rarely see these days. Truly did not see this one coming. 🙂 Gaiman’s descriptions of place and characters entangle and take you between real and otherworld. Not my typical reading choice but involving enough to make me find out more about him and keep an eye out for his work. Lucky Day Sentence, from “Black Dog”: “Shadow was not certain how old she was. Her hair was white but she seems younger than her hair.” Refreshing when so many people seem older than their hair, thanks to L’Oreal and Grecian Formula.

Doghouse Roses by Steve Earle

Find in catalogThis is Steve Earle’s first book, after successes as an alt-country singer songwriter. He writes about what he knows- drug addiction, the music business, and the prison system. The writing is honest and compelling. The stand out stories for me are “Doghouse Roses” and “The Reunion.”

Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

Girl with Curious HairIts interesting how the author introduces the space context. He lets you catch glimpses of all that is happening before presenting the main characters. Makes you feel like you own the space.

Reviewed by Shamala

Mr. Bedford and the Muses by Gail Godwin

Mr. Bedford and the MusesThis is a book of 6 short stories, and my review is of the excellent first one, titled “Mr. Bedford.” At 113 pages, regular type, it is a long ‘short story.’ I liked it because the author presented an in-depth and dryly humourous account of her stay in London with an eccentric couple, almost indescribable, walking the tightrope between truly concerned people and con-artists. It’s also her account of the personalities of the varied people they had as boarders. Altogether, a fun yet thought-provoking read, with wonderful insights into human character.

Reviewed by Theresa

Who I Was Supposed to Be by Susan Perabo

Who I Was Supposed to BeThis is a collection of well-written short stories that, in the words of the book jacket, “celebrate the absence of normalcy.” I would say that they are based on what happens when the boundary against casual violence and willfulness dissolves. They have surprising circumstances and occasional shocking moments, all introduced in a very calm, ordinary voice. They are a good read and not far from reality, but enough to be unsettling.

Reviewed by Sue

The Light Princess and Other Stories by George MacDonald

The Light Princess and Other SToriesWhat a lovely collection of short stories! The writing is clever and layered, with turns of phrase that had me chuckling with delight. MacDonald’s character descriptions are particularly fun – here’s an example: “She was a sour, spiteful creature. The wrinkles of contempt crossed the wrinkles of peevishness, and made her face as full of wrinkles as a pat of butter” (p. 2). The stories are quite odd, and I probably would not have enjoyed them very much as a child because some of the themes would have gone over my head. MacDonald himself stated that he wrote not for children, but for the childlike. This is not to say that the stories are not appropriate for all ages – they are; it’s just that they are very OLD, and many modern children might find them challenging.

Reviewed by Caroline

Last Decent Parking Place in North America by Tom Bodett

Tom Bodett (the famous voice on the Motel 6 commercials: “We’ll leave the light on.”) reads this audio book himself. His folksy style is easy listening as he describes aspects of life in Homer, Alaska. The vignettes are well-written and one can picture each snapshot of life at the “end of the road.” I’d highly recommend this audio book.

Reviewed by Vicki