Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: This Far Isn't Far Enough by Lynn Sloan

Short story collections are notoriously hard to sum up succinctly. Unless they are interconnected stories, they might be linked by theme or even just by the fact of their author. And often some stories are far stronger than others. Luckily, in Lynn Sloan’s emotionally resonant collection, This Far Isn’t Far Enough, the stories are linked thematically and all of them are strong and complete pieces.

Each of these unique stories has complicated characters who embody endurance and resilience. They are stories of comebacks, of turning points, of surprises,  many layered, masterful, and full of depth and feeling. The writing is crisp and precise. And the reader is given the gift of unexpected, but entirely earned, endings. There’s a cook who operates an illegal restaurant out of his house after his business partner was caught dealing drugs. There’s a woman whose ex shows up when their son gets arrested and just as she’s dealing with a bear at her remote home. There’s an aging actor faced with his partner, once a well known actress herself, sinking into the grip of Alzheimer’s and the demands her care puts on him and his career. There’s a photography professor asked to recommend for tenure a man she knows to be a sexual predator. There’s a woman who agrees to meet a former lover long after he left her.  In each of these and the other stories, there is a sense of loss, of grief, of betrayal, but also a push back against the clearly defined and expected way forward. Sloan’s characters are haunted by the past and their decisions and placed in the seminal situations of their stories, they make interesting and real choices about moving forward.  For those looking for an introduction to the short story form, these stories are polished gems.  The opposite of uplifting, they are powerful and affecting and will certainly appeal to a literarily-minded audience.

Thanks to Caitlin Hamilton Summie for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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