Tin House Books, $14.95, 262 pages
In this collection of short stories, author Keith Lee Morris focuses on sharing the life experiences of men. Dads, brothers, sons, working men, sick men, boys, teens – all are covered in Call It What You Want. In each of the thirteen stories, the men are on the verge of breaking down. They are fragile and in turn, very human. “What I Want from You” highlights this fragility. It is about a family in crisis. One of their boys is terminally ill and instead of the father facing his son’s life and death, he commits suicide. “Camel Light” is also about a man on the verge of a breakdown. Although it is more comedic than the first story, it still addresses a painful aspect of relationships. Rick is home alone enjoying some time to himself when he finds a Camel Light cigarette in the kitchen. Nobody in the family smokes. After much thinking, he decides his wife is having an affair. The story is about the mental anguish he goes through while waiting for her to return home. The other stories in this collection are just as heartbreaking. They will make you think long after you close the book.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin