Little, Brown and Company
Ms. Hen decided to read this book because she found it at a used bookstore, read the opening paragraph about a man wearing a rubber chicken head, and fell in love with the beginning of the story, “The Mansion on the Hill.” It took her a while to read the entire book, because she was focused on other things, but she got around to reading it in between library books.
Ms. Hen found that a lot of the stories in this collection have to do with car accidents, or other types of accidents. The story, “Mansion on the Hill,” is about a man grieving his sister who has died in a car accident. He starts working at a wedding company, and strange things happen there. The story, “Forecast from the Retail Desk,” is about a man who can predict the future, and he predicts his classmate’s death in a car accident when he is in high school. The story “Hawaiian Night” is about a party at a resort, and a boat accident occurs.
Ms. Hen didn’t like the story “Pan’s Fair Throng,” a type of fairy tale. She doesn’t think it fits in with the collection at all, and she thought it was jarring. Whenever she reads collections of short stories, there are usually one or two she does not like.
The story, “The Carnival Tradition,” is the longest in the book. Ms. Hen didn’t like some of the characters, but she liked the story because it is about memory, and the things that happen to people when they remember things. It is a haunting story about two people, who were a couple for a short time, who look back to when they were young.
Ms. Hen read the story, “Boys,” in a class when she was in college. She recalls learning that it’s a good example of repetition in a story, and poetic writing. She thinks she had to do an exercise that had to do with the story, but she doesn't know if she remembers correctly.
Ms. Hen wanted to punch lot of the characters in these stories in the face. Many of them are quite obnoxious, especially in the story, “The Ineluctable Modality of the Vagina.” The two characters in that story irritated Ms. Hen.
Ms. Hen liked this collection of short stories, though she thought some stories were better than others. She didn’t love the book, but most of the characters are realistic and seem genuine, and she admires that in writing. Characters are what make quality writing, even though the reader might not enjoy them, and wouldn’t want to hang out with them, if they’re well drawn, they make the writing come alive.