Nicole's Reviews > Airships

Airships by Barry Hannah
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's review
Feb 09, 2009

really liked it

Without ever wandering far from a very Southern core, these stories span a wide range of dysfunctions, primarily revolving around love, family, and friendship. And as a whole they are very well written and enjoyable to read. Their lengths vary greatly, which I didn't realize I would appreciate so much when just scanning the table of contents. But one or two stories spanning just a handful of pages between some of the lengthier ones was a bit like coming up for sweet little sips of fresh air between big blocks of having to hold my breath. Maybe because I approached them this way, for the most part the shorter stories (though I enjoyed many of them) didn't strike me as deeply as the longer ones. The more I read short-shorts, the more I think it's a nearly impossible challenge to ask any story below a certain page/word count to feel complete enough to really draw a reader into the world it creates in any meaningful way.

One of the things that struck me most about these stories was their effortless series of locations - a dock where the old men of the area hand out and spin tall tales for each others' benefits appears in at least two stories; a failed dinner party; a string of tennis courts; and the Civil War-era South of Jeb Stuart's cavalrymen earns several appearances. By taking us to some locations more than once, Hannah runs the risk of these places starting to feel repetitive to the reader, but he manages to give them just enough of a different flavor each time they appear to stay out of this potential hazard. Instead, the different events and characters being set up in the same place allow these recurring locations to take on a greater depth for the reader than just a single story set there would have.
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