Why the Long Face?
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Why the Long Face?

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  15 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Fiction. Fifteen stories, at once playful and serious, simple and layered, familiar and not. Gertrude Stein and Buffy the Vampire Slayer track down the bridal party to save a Las Vegas wedding. An ambivalent geneticist disappears himself in Texas scrub country. A five-year-old in search of her lost mother walks a high-wire between her home and her lesbian neighbor's. These...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Swank Books
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Ron MacLean is an artist who knows what he’s doing. He asks you to trust that he will tell you a story. He asks you to trust that there’s a good chance you’ll take away more than you imagined. Not every story in Why the Long Face is for all tastes, they weren’t all mine. Yet each one offers beauty.

“Las Vegas Wedding” plays like a recurring dream, a surreal snowball of nonlinear narrative, gradually rolling, forwards – and then backwards, adding layers of situations and characters – like Gertrude...more
Jules Jones
I received a review copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. As with many of the books I've requested on LTER, it's a book that I might not have picked up and bought in a bookshop, but which looked intriguing enough on the LTER information for me to want to try it. As such, it's outside my usual reading range, which does have some bearing on my review.[return][return]The book is a collection of contemporary short stories by Ron MacLean. It was described in the pub...more
The fifteen stories in Ron MacLean's superb collection examine life through a variety of prisms. In some stories, the constraints of the physical world are heightened or tweaked, while others evoke the altered reality associated with dreams. What remains consistent throughout these stories is MacLean's ability to create compelling and sympathetic characters. From the grief-stricken father and daughter in the moving "Aerialist" to the troubled couples in "South of Why," MacLean's characters are d...more
Stephen Dorneman
Ron MacLean has intensively studied the various forms a short story can take, and it shows in this excellent, eclectic collection. From the Borges-like "The Encylopedia of (Almost) All the Knowledge..." to the medical-historical fiction of "Strange Trajectory: A Story of Phineas Gage", from the surreal celebration of chaos that is "Las Vegas Wedding" to his jabs at the world of art and art funding in both "Dr. Bliss and the Library of Toast" and "Figure with Meat," Ron engages the reader with fa...more
S. Wilson
Most short story collections are usually a grab-bag; some good, some bad, some obviously just included to fill out the page count.

Why the Long Face? is the exception to the rule. Ron Maclean's collection of short stories vary in their style, subject matter, prose, and impact, yet every story shines as a perfect example of what a short story should be. MacLean's stories convey the emotions of the characters, the longing and suffering, confusion and contemplation, with elegance and skill. The worl...more
I got about halfway through this collection of short stories, before moving on to other books. A very mixed collection. On a 1-5 scale, of the stories I read, there was one 4.5, two 4s, two 3s, a 2, and an unreadable 1. I'll look forward to seeing Mr MacLean's stories when they're accepted by editors in magazines. (South of Why, my favorite of these stories, was originally published in GQ.)
I'm a bit wary of non-genre short story collections -- they're often full of self-absorbed postmodernism, stories that seem to have been written for their own sake rather than to entertain or enlighten. I was surprised, then, to discover how much I loved this collection. The stories are by turns funny, luminous, and even frightening. Thanks, Mr. MacLean, for surprising me.
A nicely written collection of short stories that delves deep into the psyches of lost souls. Good stuff.
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Ron’s fiction has appeared in GQ, Greensboro Review, Prism International, Night Train and other quarterlies. He is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and a Pushcart Prize nominee. When he teaches, he does so at Grub Street, Boston’s independent writing center.
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