Subway Dancer and Other Stories Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B00CIH2XLW
- Publication date : November 14, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 1986 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 241 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #130,764 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I guess I would call these stories slice of life stories. They are not "Once upon a time" and then "Happily ever after" tales. Instead we are allowed a glimpse into the life of a character and the people around him/her. Most writers would aim for some cataclysmic or climactic moment in their lives, but here the events are meaningful but often internal. An example is "Requiem for a Flamer." The story concerns two men whose loved ones have been killed in an airplane crash. I would expect such a story to begin with a white-knuckle description of the final moments of the crash itself. It could have shown those loved ones interacting during their final moments, foreshadowing their surviving partners getting to know each other. And that could have been a great story also. But Catherine's stories are more subtle than that. They are mostly about the characters, their thought processes and how they react to life, rather than about special effects. (Okay, there is a story involving a spectacular car crash, but it is the exception that highlights the rule.)
In a way Catherine's writing in this collection reminds me of the late Raymond Carver, one of the modern masters of the short story. He wrote slice of life stories about regular people. His stories could be bleak, because his characters were often people at a low ebb in their lives. His minimalist writing style - no long descriptions or flowery language - influenced my writing a lot. His characters and their dialogue always feels real, if a little depressing sometimes. At least one other reviewer says that Catherine's stories are depressing. They are not - they should read Carver to see the difference. Her stories and her characters are imbued with hope and the characters are often kind to each other. There may not be happily ever after endings, but they end where they need to end. My writing contains a lot more humor and upbeat moments than Raymond Carver's stories, and Catherine's tales are somewhere in between those two extremes. One reviewer said her other works are more upbeat, so even if you find these stories a bit bleak (my favorite word in this review, apparently!) than don't give up on her.
Catherine doesn't employ that great writing crutch - the major plot twist - but that doesn't mean her stories are predictable either. I was slightly surprised quite a few times by small plot turns. For example, in the story about the airplane crash survivors, one of them performs a small kindness at the end that I didn't see coming, but it felt real as I read it. And in a story about quarreling neighbors, I felt a tragic ending coming a mile away, but she didn't take that well-worn path.
I mentioned a few stories I didn't care for. Two of them are written in the second person viewpoint. As a writer I know this is a difficult but legitimate way to write a story, but I've never liked it. What does second person mean, you ask? Most writing is first or third person. First person: I stood in the hallway, waiting for something to happen. Third person: He stood in the hallway, waiting for something to happen. Second person: You stood in the hallway, waiting for something to happen. Second person always feels awkward to me, but that could just be me. The other story I didn't care for is the one the book is named after, "Subway Dancer," but I can't even tell you why. Just one of those things. Some of my favorite albums have a song on them I don't care for: no big deal. You may love those three stories.
So in closing I will just say this collection was well-worth reading. No two stories are alike, and Catherine gets inside her characters and makes you care about what happens to them. They don't always make the right choices and they sometimes pay for that. These stories are realistic and yes, a bit bleak in places, but the characters don't give up. They usually try to do the right thing, which is why I said that the stories are imbued with hope.
Top reviews from other countries
Short stories are making a comeback. They are ideally suited for reading on a Kindle. You could read a whole short story during a journey, daily commute, in a waiting room, during the lunchbreak at your workplace or, of course, at home.
For readers seeking such short fiction, you need look no further than this wonderful compilation.
My own favourite was 'Bloodlines' - the funniest story I've read in a very long time. It was a SCREAM!! It was cited in Best American Short Stories 2002 and reprinted in the New York Times best-selling anthology 'Dog is My Co-Pilot' in 2003. If you read this one during a journey, you could end up laughing out loud. This could alarm fellow passengers. Of course, you might think that would be rather fun.
Two other favourites were The Worry Stone, a tale about the recipient of a donated heart, and The Man Who Found You In The Woods. The latter was also cited in Best American Short Stories 2002. These two short stories were later 'fleshed out' by the author and became her novels 'Second Hand Heart' and 'When I Found You' respectively.
I highly recommend this book of 15 stories. All are set in the United States.