Bonnie Brody's Reviews > This Will Be Difficult to Explain: And Other Stories

This Will Be Difficult to Explain by Johanna Skibsrud
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's review
Apr 10, 2012

it was ok
Read from April 07 to 08, 2012

This Will Be Difficult to Explain: And Other Stories is a slim volume of short stories by Johanna Skibsrud. As a lover of short stories, I was highly anticipating the reading of this book. However, I was quite disappointed. The stories are bland and boring, most of them without any perceptible essence to be gleaned. Some of the characters are in more than one of the stories though there is no real follow-through with their lives. Many of the stories are about small aspects of life that can lead to 'extraordinary' changes.

In 'The Electric Man', a young American is working for the summer at a European hotel. An elderly man asks her to pose for her portrait. Though he is strange, she agrees to pose. During their time together he tells her a little about himself. However, after the summer ends she realizes that she has no clue about the realities of his life. In 'The Limit', a father gets to see his daughter for the first time in eight months. He feels like an absentee father, something he never wanted to be. However, issues with his ex-wife make it difficult for him to see his daughter more often. As they head off to his mother's house he tries to connect with his daughter without much luck. Another story is about a young American woman who works as an aide for a blind Parisian. The young woman's French is not so good and this leads to her misunderstanding the story of the death of her employer's son.

My favorite story in the collection is 'Clarence'. A young journalist goes out on assignment to get a story and photo of the oldest living man in his county. His first attempt is unsuccessful but he tries again with a different angle, telling the man a story of his own - when he was fifteen years old he saw a snake eat a fish and found it extraordinary. The story takes a strange turn but the photo is attained.

Many of the stories are told non-linearly. Parts of them take place in the present with the other part in the past. Thus, they have two story lines - the current situation and something that happened long ago. While the technique is interesting, I did not find that it added much to the stories themselves. I wish I could say that I enjoyed this book but that is not the case. It was difficult to get through and I am left with only one story that I will carry with me.
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Reading Progress

04/08/2012 page 100

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe Bonnie, I was curious how the author would do on short stories. You answered my question. Thanks for that, good review.

Bonnie Brody Thanks Friederike. I was very disappointed with this collection. The stories went nowhere and the subject matter was trite.

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