Barry turns his story over to two first person narrators each with their own particular voice. I can't say much about this book without revealing allBarry turns his story over to two first person narrators each with their own particular voice. I can't say much about this book without revealing all the things that make it great and are best discovered by each reader. Essentially, this book is about a 100-year-old woman in a mental hospital which is being moved and downsized. Her doctor must decide if she is capable of living on her own. She tells her story and he tells her story (as well as his own). Barry does an excellent job of using both narrators to reveal the story and its surprises in ways that keep you wanting to read more. I was a bit disappointed in the last, final surprise as it wasn't as nicely crafted as the rest of the story. It seemed totally out of nowhere with little foreshadowing. Every other plot point was surprising, but also believable. The last one not so much. This was the only reason that I did not give all five stars to this book. I would recommend it for the first 98% of the book....more
Twin Study: Stories is a collection of short stories by Stacey Richter which has garnered attention for her interesting narrators. I agree that her naTwin Study: Stories is a collection of short stories by Stacey Richter which has garnered attention for her interesting narrators. I agree that her narrators are not standard in any way, but a few of them cross the line between wacky and annoying. A few, like the one in “Habits and Habitat of the Southwestern Bad Boy,” I find unsympathetic and hard to listen to. This may have been by Richter’s design, but if I’m going to read a store told by someone a bit offensive, I need to feel some modicum of sympathy for them. This is not the case in a couple of Richter’s narrators. These narrators are in the minority, though, and many of them, such as the one in the title story “Twin Study,” are both funny and sympathetic. Richter’s stories shine when the reader can see through the quirky voice of the narrator into her pain.
One story that is of particular note is “Velvet,” the second story in the volume. Velvet is a dog on an adventure and the story is told by a third person narrator who remains close to Velvet’s point of view. The tone of the story performs a very fine balancing act between being a sappy animated movie about a dog and a cynical look at life through a dog’s eyes. The story is a realistic look at adventure and its consequences and Richter manages to make it a thoughtful story for adults without turning it into a negative caricature. This story in-and-of-itself, in its demonstration of Richter’s control of her craft, makes the volume one to pick up and enjoy.
Grégoire Bouillier’s The Mystery Guest is a small but powerful volume about love lost and - eventually - gotten over. Bouillier’s ex-girlfriend callsGrégoire Bouillier’s The Mystery Guest is a small but powerful volume about love lost and - eventually - gotten over. Bouillier’s ex-girlfriend calls one day and invites him to be the “mystery guest” at a party of a friend of hers. This invitation causes Bouillier to go on a frantic and manic head trip wondering why she invited him, whether he should go, and - when he decides to go - what gift to buy the woman he does not know.
The memoir is both funny and thought-provoking. Bouillier’s mania results in many memorable sections on turtlenecks as undershirts and the rationale behind gift wrap. But, as the story unfolds and he comes face-to-face with the ex-girlfriend who left with no discussion several years prior, Bouillier also gives the reader a meditation on how we move on from past love.