Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost. Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.
In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.
The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.
Expected publication: October 1st 2014 by University Of Iowa Press
Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
An interesting collection of stories, most of which are about relationships. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’d say it was a 50/50 split between the ones I enjoyed and the ones that I didn’t. While some were exceedingly short, or as the synopsis states ‘short as breaths’, they were all well done, even the ones that left me feeling as if there should have been another chapter or two to finish off the story in someway.
Something that I found very interesting, and actually quite refreshing, was how the author mixed things up by writing not only from different perspectives, first, second and third person, but also different styles for each story. All in all this collection has a little something for everyone to enjoy.