Will's Reviews > The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea

The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea by Christopher Meeks
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's review
Aug 13, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: short-story
Read in December, 2008

I liked that these stories are rich in perfectly telling details but surprisingly succinct as well. They cut to the quick. I was moved and/or saddened by each story--so much so that I couldn't read any of them back to back. Maybe it has to do with how Meeks reminds me of Raymond Carver if Raymond Carver was funny and not so hung up on the sauce, but these stories require the same kind of lengthy refractory period as Carver's. I find that interesting. After reading one, I'm trapped somewhere between serious pontification and outright silent grieving, and it goes without saying, my cereal becomes soggy.

For example, the last four sentences of the four-page "Green River" illustrate Mr. Meeks' masterful conciseness while also showcasing an almost tragicomical range of emotions:

"At this point, Harry was extolling the virtues of Nutrageous over the Salted Nut Bar again, and he earnestly asked me if I thought my chocolate was really better. I realized in that moment, as I looked over at the van and saw a ghostly reflection of me inside my own windshield, that no matter how much hope you have, it cannot weave happiness. I touched Harry's shoulder and told him as far as candy bars were concerned, go with your own impressions. Do what you have to do."

Anywho, my only words of advice are addressed to the worrywarts, weak of heart, the anxious and the like. Heed ye this warning: This book is concerned with sickness and in great quantity. Characters are quite often dealing with disease, caught in the process of dying, or grappling with the threat of sudden and undeserved illness. Hypochondria is at least sharing the role of king in this collection. And what is the second theme on the throne? I think maybe the notion that bad things will happen--that love is a word whose meaning is unwritten.
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