I admire Ann Beattie’s first novel Chilly Scenes of Winter that I decided to give her short stories a try. And this I guess as being the most acclaimed, (and is reviewed favorably by readers) I picked out book as soon as I saw it. Beattie retains her sparing prose, giving away important details and hiding the unnecessary parts (or vice versa) which in my opinion makes each of the stories readable in the sense that you’ll want to know what’ll happen though it has some tendency to bore. Her stories don’t give much anything especially the characters relationships that you’ll find yourself confuse, and with these I get to know where the author’s strength comes from.
Each of the stories doesn’t really have a premise to make you remember them except for some (The Cinderella Waltz; a woman, left by her husband for another man and Jacklighting; where a group of friends unite to commemorate a common friend) and the recurring themes in each of the stories makes it hard for someone to differentiate it from the other or remember a particular title. But as I read each stories, I came to the realization that interesting premise isn’t the author’s cup of tea, but on how someone’s life runs, the nuances of everyday living through dialogues. On defending oneself when criticize, on how we expressed our feelings while trying to protect ourselves or somebody and on how we try to lived our lives through expressing; careful to make or break.
I also admire on how she usually ends each of her stories with such moving narratives, that although she doesn’t present the reader with a resolution, (that sometimes I feel the stories are just suddenly cut) one can leave feeling satisfied. Like life how life sometimes offers no solution but great understanding.
I highly recommend this collection for short-fiction lovers and for persistent readers; the one’s who usually witnessed a rewarding read after the book is closed.
Most of the stories here have appeared on The New Yorker.
“I’ll bet Tucker’s after that painter personally, not because he’s the hottest thing since pancakes. That expression of his – it’s always the same. Maybe Nixon really loved his mother, but with that expression who could believe him? It’s a curse to have a face that won’t express what you mean.”