Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Mechanics of Falling

Ordinarily, I am a novel kind of girl. I love getting involved in a story that takes me from start to finish and allows plenty of time for me to get to know the characters involved. However, there are times when I really appreciate short stories. They don't require as much commitment or time on my part, yet I get to lose myself in someone else's story.

And there are times when the best of both worlds collide into a gem of a book. The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories is certainly one of those rare books.

Author Catherine Brady does a remarkable job with characterization. The characters throughout the book are widely varied, yet the reader gets to know them intimately. It is amazing how much you can learn about someone in a short story - how their thoughts, feelings and outcomes can become embedded in the reader's mind. This element throughout all of the stories blew me away.

I will admit there were certain aspects of the stories that I found a little disconcerting in the beginning. Each story seems to end abruptly without any clear resolution. In fact, when I finished the first story in the book, "Looking For A Female Tenet," I had to reread it because I was sure I had missed something.

Once I got used to this element though, I appreciated it for the most part. I realized I already knew enough about the characters that I could invest some thought into the storyline and imagine what would happen next. What a great way to get readers truly involved. It almost reminded me of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood, except without the choices.

Book Synopsis:

These stories, set largely in San Francisco, are about what happens when the seemingly fixed coordinates of our lives abruptly give way—when mother love fractures, the faithful husband abandons his family, a conscientious middle-class life implodes, loyalty demands excruciating sacrifices. The characters in these stories—a college student waitressing in a remote resort in the Sierras, a devout Christian man who works in a shelter for the homeless, a faded Berkeley radical, a privileged young woman who can’t figure out whom to blame for her inexplicable discontent—share a fundamental predicament, the struggle to name and embrace some faith that can break their fall. In equal measure, they hunger for and resist this elusive possibility and what it demands of them.
You can learn more about The Mechanics of Fallingand Other Stories and the author at Catherine Brady's website. Go here to buy the book for yourself.

Also, you can listen to an interview with Catherine Brady here.


Catherine Brady 12:58 AM  


Thanks so much for the review. It was interesting to read your comments on the endings of the stories. I try for an ending at which the reader has to keep moving forward, keep imagining what comes next. The best thing a story can do, I think, is to ask the reader to fill in that future. Of course, this is a delicate note to hit just right, and not fall too far short.
--Catherine Brady

Wendy 2:23 PM  

Great review - I agree that sometimes the best part of a short story is letting your imagination finish it for you. I loved this book!

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I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

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