Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Traveling Left of Center by Nancy Christie -- BookReview

When I received this book for review I mostly accepted it because I don’t like to refuse people. I was very skeptical and I was so sure I wasn’t going to like one.bit.! Boy, was I wrong. 

This short-story collection, Traveling Left of Center by NancyChristie releases today. I finished reading it last night and these are my hot off the press thoughts. (This review was actually written last night as well, so hot off the press is actually pretty hot! And subjective.)

Now, let me gather my thoughts and the pieces of paper I scribbled some ideas on so I can say this:
Nancy Christie takes the English language on such an endearing trip! She offers the readers the possibility to look at words and phrases from new angles. Words have new dimensions, really, as pretentious that must sound right now. Toying with words and phrases, the titles of her stories are at time dead-on literal or, on the contrary, unexpected with unsuspecting turn of events. 

What am I saying? Events? There’s no such thing as events in here. At most, the small beginning of something but it soon reaches a some sort of peak and leaves you bewildered and in need for more asking yourself what exactly happened. You find yourself playing the role of the cruel reader. You want to know more of the depth of the human misery – the human existence. You soon learn there is no turn for the best; it’s either downhill from where the story begins or a perpetual state of painful stagnation. She describes in well picked words the wounds of the man, open for all to see, and what is more, to find pieces of themselves in the said wounds, but not necessarily to learn more from them. How could you? What could you learn? The vivid depiction of many a man, but yet alone in their dealing with their reality. Surely many can find themselves in at least one story.

People dependent on other people. People physically sick of other people. The power of stories in creating new identities and new worlds to escape in. The longing for restoration in relationships. The longing for love stories that grow into more than just buds of a story. The power of a random thing that breaks the personal mundane, with unexpected and exaggerated consequences. The power of the inner voices and the mind created friends over-towering the power of reality. Man’s ability to destroy other humans. Man’s ability to withdraw from reality for a moment of respite, fresh like a long day of care-free existence. 

This collection is a wide range of emotions (though I don’t like the word), each story leaving me wanting to learn more of this world where this kind of characters dwell, but in the same time wanting to stop it from spilling over. Somehow you expect the inevitable to happen, but in the same time you hope it won’t. There is no happy ending here. It is a nice break from the overly-praised fairy-tales. 

I am still too immersed in each story’s realm to be fully objective, but I can surely say that so far this is one of the most engaging short story collections I’ve ever read. One needs the time to process them individually and also collectively. As one who thinks all things happen for a reason, I am sure the order of the stories within this collection couldn’t have been better and somehow you go gradually and layer-ly to new stories of life. Right was he who said the fault of this collection was the lack of yet another story, and another. 

**“Who on this earth gets what they ask for every time they ask for it? No one does. Anyone who says they do is a liar and anyone who thinks they will is a fool.”

**Her trips must be all pleasure, all joy, an escape from the life she lived, not a continuation of it.

**Gentleness, even when it is a substitute for love, is not a thing one can refuse—not in this world, where mindless cruelty is so common, where random failures can destroy unsuspecting lives.

**Tonight there was another dream: the ringing of the phone and when I answered, a single question—“What do you want?” Then nothing more, and I awaken, the question echoing in my mind. What do I want? I look around me—at fifteen years of furniture and wall coverings, at fifteen years of marriage and family life, at fifteen years of connections. “I don’t know,” and I turn, hugging my husband’s body for warmth.

**He used canvas and oils the way God had used clay, creating life from inanimate objects.

I received an ebook version of Traveling Left of Center by NancyChristie through BookBloggersList. All thoughts expressed in this review are mine. However, I recommend reading this in paperback version rather than an ebook version.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a wonderful review! I am so glad you liked my stories!