Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: "Your Father Sends His Love: Stories" by Stuart Evers

Maybe it's because the two-year anniversary of my father's death is approaching in a few weeks that first attracted me to reading Stuart Evers' new story collection. But while certainly many of these stories focus on the relationships between fathers and their children (or, in one case, grandchildren), there are stories which focus on other emotional connections and relationships as well.

Among my favorites in the collection were: "These Are the Days," in which an elderly man tries to mediate tension between his estranged son and his granddaughter; "Something Else to Say," which follows the reunion of a man and his best friend, who has experienced a series of emotional crises, and the man's efforts to identify topics to keep their conversation flowing; "Sundowners," about a married woman in the midst of an affair with a younger man, who wants her more than she does him; "Wings," where a woman gets a tattoo in memory of her less inhibited sister and it suddenly frees her emotionally; "Frequencies," in which a man babysits his infant son while his wife is away on business, and he overhears snippets of an interesting conversation on the baby monitor; and my favorite story, "Lakelands," about a man who makes a weighty sacrifice in defense of his gay son.

I had never read anything Evers had written before, and I definitely enjoyed his way with language and imagery, as well as his skill with dialogue. Some of these stories packed a real emotional punch, while I didn't quite understand the point of several others. I felt as if he was at his best when he told straightforward stories; a few more experimental stories don't work as well. Interestingly enough, I felt as if the collection was front-loaded so that the majority of the strongest stories came early on.

The number of talented writers out there today doing magic with short stories grows larger and larger by the day. While not every story succeeds, by and large, Stuart Evers demonstrates his significant talent with Your Father Sends His Love. These are well-written stories that examine the fragility of relationships of all kinds, and they'll definitely resonate in your mind after you're done reading them.

NetGalley and W.W. Norton & Company provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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