Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Balancing on the Edge of the World reviewed on Bookmunch

I have a nice thoughtful review this morning by Katie Rathfelder on Bookmunch. She says some pretty nice things, and one thing that made me think was this:
This is ... a much more unified collection than I had expected from hearsay
What it made me think is that I have been too hung up myself on the differences between the stories, and have unfortunately transmitted this in discussions about the book. This is the trouble, when you're the author that's what you see, the differences, and when you're writing that's what you're trying to make: it's like families, you can see all the differences between your sisters and the ways they are trying their utmost to be unlike each other, but what other people notice is the family likeness they can't escape. Anyway, Katie has seen the family likeness between my stories.
All the stories here are about the disenfranchised, people whose stories aren’t told as often. It’s a collection of women (especially mothers), the homeless, the people you might pass by on a grey city street without noticing. And it’s very good at it.
This is a lovely honest review. Katie makes clear that she doesn't love all of the stories, which makes her praise all that much more worth having. She particularly likes 'Daniel Smith Disappears off the Face of the Earth' which she calls
a description of a mugging that manages to be both beautiful and harrowing, one of those perfect pieces of short fiction that sticks with you and makes you see the next puddle you walk past differently.
She says:
There’s this great sense of delight in words, in expression, that lends a freshness to even the most traditional piece here. It feels rather like her characters are really glad to just be able to tell you about their lives, even when those lives are not necessarily much fun. The overall effect is like walking down the street and seeing people in their living room who have forgotten that people outside can see in, except this time you can hear them, too.
Above all she says that the many of the stories will leave you 'randomly remembering [them] at odd moments', which she calls 'the mark of a pretty good story collection', and is to me is one of the best things to be told.

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