I literally laughed out loud when reading those 21 humorous stories of My Life and Other Lies by Steve Pitt. The book reminds me of the books of the h...moreI literally laughed out loud when reading those 21 humorous stories of My Life and Other Lies by Steve Pitt. The book reminds me of the books of the humorist, Stephen Leecock. These are well-developed real life stories written in a rich and colorful language with vivid images. The reader can visualize different characters, young or old, male or female, and different dogs. I enjoy many cute and funny details.
My favorites are “Jambon,” “Gentle Men, the Queen,” “Confessions of a Cherry Tree Ogre,” and “A Day in a Chinese Kitchen.” Weeks after finishing the read, I can still picture those who winkled their noses or dabbed their eyes with their napkins because of undigested garlic buttered snails working in Jambon’s belly; the waving claw of a lobster in the feather bonnet of the marching officer due to a daredevil’s practical joke; the kids on the cherry trees who enjoyed the free fruit while unexpected thieves as old as their grandparents break in a house in the neighborhood; and the precious drinking glass for the VIP, which was finally discovered over a daddy-long-legs spider under the dish sink in a Chinese kitchen where one could easily spot a thousand porcelain cups.
On some cloudy day, I’d like to read the book again, laugh off stress and anxiety, and gain some energy from these lovely stories. (less)
The Maladjusted by Derek Hayes is a marvelous read. This is a collection of sixteen stories. Except for three stories that are set in Taiwan, Turkey,...moreThe Maladjusted by Derek Hayes is a marvelous read. This is a collection of sixteen stories. Except for three stories that are set in Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam, most of the stories happen in Toronto—a mosaic of different cultures. The stories vividly portray the people of various walks of life, such as teachers, inland or overseas, people with mental disorders, office workers, an educational assistant, college students, social workers and so on. They are about the people living in Toronto or from Toronto. “Tom and Wilkie,” in a different lens, also adds a true part of Toronto.
Some of the stories are about relationship, some are about friendship, and the other ones are about the adjustment to society or environments.
Most of the stories are told in first person—a popular style that enables readers view protagonists closely and directly. Meanwhile the author narrates stories with some subtle details from special angles; the reader can identify with those peculiar moments in real life situations. In “A Feel for America,” Samuel practises writing Chinese characters right after he’s just arrived and is still suffering a jet lag. Adam who has forged his degree for his teaching job is bossy and fault-finding. Melanie, the protagonist in “That’s Very Observant of You,” interested in the handsome waiter, covers the pockmarks on her cheeks with her hand when the waiter comes to her. Jim in “The Revisionist” has many quirky moments. In a subway car, he starts to tell strangers, “This is the first time that I’ve ever worn a tie.” After getting angry with the loan rate offered by the bank manager, Jim hurries to another bank. In “The Runner,” Alan has never shared an ice-cream with his girlfriend, Carol, as he’s afraid of her saliva on the nuts. Furthermore, Alan becomes obsessed with the thin hair on Carol’s upper lip. In the longest story, “The lover,” Jeremy, a group home member, checks the crackers bought from Shoppers and believes they’re full of worms. The kitten grows into a sixteen-years-old cat while Mark is bald and examines his history with women. All these details bring characters to life. The reader wants to know what would become of these people.
I enjoy these fascinating stories, which make me chew them over and also remind me of Anton P. Chekhov’s style. Chekov expected the reader to draw out meaning from his stories.
My favorite ones are “A Feel for America” and “The lover.” The formal one shines with a sort of life philosophy: the one laughs last laughs best. In the latter one, “Sometimes I think I’m the one who is mentally afflicted,” narrated by Mark, the protagonist, rings the bell to me: C’est la vie. (less)
One Day It Happens, a short story collection, by Mary Lou Dickinson, is wonderful. They are stories of different people, women and men, and young and...moreOne Day It Happens, a short story collection, by Mary Lou Dickinson, is wonderful. They are stories of different people, women and men, and young and old. The love of Dick and Tony in "The Neighbors" is poignant. The death made me tearing. "The Empty Chair" has a humorous tone. When I read the following passage, "He rushed himself up to a standing position and shuffled across the room with one pant leg on and the other leg on the other off, like her son when he was a boy," I seemed to see a lopsided smile on the face of the protagnist, Margaret. "Hannah's Drawings" tells a story about death and friendship, music and drawings. The peaceful tone reminds me of a line by the Indian poet Tagore: "Let life be beautiful like summer flowers and death like autumn leaves." (less)
Necessary Lies by Eva Stachniak is one of the excellent novels I've ever read. I can't put it down when I read it. The story of Anna is eye catching....moreNecessary Lies by Eva Stachniak is one of the excellent novels I've ever read. I can't put it down when I read it. The story of Anna is eye catching. This well-educated woman left her family in Wroclaw and came to Montreal for advanced studies. The author developed the character with interesting details. Some dramatic events happened in Anna's life while the fall of Berlin Wall changed history. Lies or truth were woven in real life. Searching for truth led Anna to an exploration. From this novel, I've learned about the woman's cross-cultural experience and also more about the important historical period I'm interested. (less)