Seamlessly, these stories jigsaw together to show the startling offshoots of the traditions of India: the greater freedom of husbands than wives; the camaraderie of male drinking and its hazardous spill into families; the ways wealth and poverty bedevil relationships; the unslakable appetites evoked by success; the homely places where love thrives.
Having been a person who grew up as Kannadiga in suburban Atlanta, I felt like I not only relived some of my own experiences of being Western and yet outside of the West, I also felt like I lived a lifetime with Vikram. This is one of the most potent powers of writing; to make the writer, and reader, through the imprint of a page, feel as if they were one.
These girls are still alive and living in Boston! Wisel does not make moral judgments. These stories are only meant to the show us lives we often overlook. The writing is vivid: you really do see these characters, and sometimes it’s a very uncomfortable vision.
Sommer has the ability to create believable characters and place them in real life situations, whether these situations are arranged or occur by chance. The ‘unusual’ sometimes is found in this writer’s narrative, like when she describes different types of Glutei Maximi, for those unacquainted with Latin this mean simply ‘bums’.
Gatza’s collection of short stories highlight important ideas such as connecting with family members, living the fullest life, challenging how to think beyond the obvious, and learning how to handle grief. Each of these lessons are truly important for both children and adults alike. What connects each of these stories, however, is the ability to experience each day with someone that readers care about whether that be a family member, a parent, a friend, or a sibling.
In the midst of narratives preoccupied with decay and disease, Glick’s language is vibrant, even magical, and often humorous in its treatment of youthful yearning and cynicism. The author flexes a talent for poetic prose especially in “Mermaid Anatomy,” which is narrated by a young man on vacation from Holland who plays hide-and-seek with a girl he meets at his hostel.
Kate’s trajectory is one of discomfort and discovery as she unearths, and then rewrites her history and the history of Salt Pan Creek, facing the wrongs she and her people, including her own parents, have done, and attempting to right them. McFarland does a beautiful job of pulling history, fiction, multiple love stories and trauma together into a coherent narrative that is powerful.
Loss and grief are rooted in a large part of the Haitian diaspora identity and manifests both overtly and covertly throughout these stories. Danticat is meticulous in her writing about Haiti and its people’s complex relationship with the U.S. In each character’s search for a better life, she magnifies the usually unexplored grief that comes with years of generational trauma and migration.
All the story titles involve some form of the verb, “to tell”, because the collection as a whole is about the things people tell themselves and others. Some characters tell themselves the truth and live authentically; others do not. In “But I Will Tell You Otherwise,” Janie and Cha Cha defy social mores and pressures and think for themselves.
However true to fact and corroborated by photos and drawings, memoir is always subject to recreation, to one-sided perception, rewriting, and recasting. It is always both true and fictive, and like dreams, pieced together from a grab-bag of images and turned into stories that reflect the themes being explored. The Age of Fibs picks up on this uncertainty beautifully and works with it, allowing for openness, complexity, and fragmentation, while still keeping the coherency of the story intact.