By Carolyn Cooke
Vintage Contemporaries, $15.00, 178 pages
Carolyn Cooke is well known for her collection of short stories, and her full length novels as well. Though this collection is not as good as the others, a lot of the stories will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Some of the stories feel somewhat interconnected though the author makes no real attempt to tell a narrative through them, they at times feature characters that were mentioned in other stories and familiar situations. The back cover says we will confront the “absurdity and poetry of human existence.” And they are right about the absurdity part of it, while the poetic part I found lacking. There are 11 stories collected in this volume and most of them deal with a recent loss, or a coming loss due to illness, or other terrible things happening to people.
These stories will leave you on a down note, they are not happy and very little happens at the end that makes you feel good for the main characters. Few of them have redeeming qualities and for a good portion you do not want them to succeed. This is not an easy one to swallow.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter