Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: "Stay Up With Me" by Tom Barbash

I'm not honestly sure where I heard about this book, but wherever it was, I'd like to say thanks. Stay Up With Me was a pretty terrific short story collection, sometimes moving, sometimes humorous, tremendously well-written, and incredibly compelling. Each of the 13 stories in this collection hit me in a different place; they made me think and made me feel, and I think I would love to read a full-length novel about the characters in most of the stories.

My favorite in the collection, Howling at the Moon, told the story of a teenage boy wracked with guilt over the death of his older brother, who finds himself living in the home of his mother's boyfriend, and not really understanding his relationship with his mother anymore. In The Break, a middle-aged woman struggles when her college-aged son starts a relationship with an older woman while he's home on break, and she feels compelled to interfere for reasons she can't quite name. The main character in Somebody's Son is a guy trying to con an elderly couple into selling their lifelong home in the Adirondacks, but he finds himself drawn to them. In Balloon Night, a man holds the annual party to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons get inflated that he and his wife throw, but tries not to reveal his wife has left him.

Other moving stories included The Women, in which a young man deals with the feelings provoked by his widowed father dating again, as well as his unresolved feelings about his mother's death, and Birthday Girl, which follows a woman faced with the fact that she accidentally hit a young girl with her car. The quirkiest story in this collection was Letters from the Academy, a compilation of one-sided correspondence from an instructor at a tennis academy to the uncommunicative father of one the Academy's most promising students.

A few stories I thought were a bit weaker, but by and large this is a consistently strong collection. I was blown away by Tom Barbash's writing style and his use of language and emotion.

I love reading short stories that make you feel sad when you're finished, stories that keep you thinking about the characters after they've ended. This is a really strong collection of stories, and I hope that people take notice, because he's definitely an author worth reading, and enjoying.

No comments:

Post a Comment