Saturday, May 4, 2013

May is National Short Story Month

(And, no, I didn't know that either)
I don't read short stories a lot, I've said countless times before. But sometimes, a short story, or a collection of short stories comes up, and for one reason or another, I have to read it. Usually, I end up liking it, though there are several occasions in which the story lets me down. Completely. Since it's short story month and were supposed to be celebrating, spreading the love of short stories, I won't mention titles.

One Way Or Another, by Peter Cameron, is a collection of short stories, published in one place or another all put together in one book.
His kind of stories are the kind I don't want to like. They're the exact reason I don't like reading short stories. It's not that they're bad - quite the opposite in fact - or that there's anything in particular that's wrong with them. They don't even talk about uncomfortable subjects like drugs and suicide. In fact, here's the synopsis (GoodReads)

The subject of this collection of stories is a generation that has warily come of age: precocious maturity has left these young people unusually vulnerable, unprepared and unequipped for warding off the pain that seems to be their legacy. Families, homes, lovers, marriages -- the safe havens they have been taught to depend on no longer guarantee shelter or stability.
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER introduces Peter Cameron as an extraordinary writer, one distinguished not only by his prose, which is always abundantly witty and pitch-perfect, but also by a rare generosity of heart.

 This quote sums up EXACTLY how I feel about this book. Except for the part about the stories being funny and lots of good humor. I didn't even smile. Somebody in the process must have a really messed up sense of humor. Maybe it's me.

"An almost eerie quietness inhabits the suburban and city landscapes of Peter Cameron's stories, a hush so exactly rendered that the pindrop crash of human tragedy becomes audible. These stories shine with intelligence, pluck and lyricism, not to mention raucous good humor, and the best of them, in their urgent rendering of the decline and dissipation of families, are more than well-crafted; they are important." - David Leavitt

 First of all, these are the kinds of short stories that are studied, analyzed, broken down, dissected, digested, and finally either pooped out of puked out, by high school and college English students. Mark my words: Twenty years after Peter Cameron dies, English curriculum all over the country will be using his works to teach something or the other. You know why they do that, wait for the author to die until they use his work? Because they're afraid that all those double, hidden meaning were just made up in their own heads from thinking too long, and the author just wrote the story like that, a simple story with no ulterior motive, so they wait for him to die so they can't ask him. It's really quite evil, once you think about it. Anyway, it's much better than The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka,  so it'll be a welcome change in curriculums, I guess. 

Truthfully, I think Leavitt is a genius. That's exactly what I would have said to describe this book. Sadly, Leavitt already said it, so I am left with nothing to say.

These short stories are poignant, sad, enlightening, and almost depressing at the same time. They're believable, and it's incredibly easy to connect with the characters. They're so gritty and real, they leave your heart aching, waiting for something, not sure what, but waiting for something that's not coming. 

Oh, and when "one way or another" is searched up on google, the entries for this book deserve to come up before 1D. Waaaaay before. Sadly, they don't.