I’m not sure why I shy from short stories. Perhaps I fear that ‘short’ denotes a lack of depth needed to invest in characters, plots and themes.
‘Letter to George Clooney’ totally debunks any such fear: Adelaide’s writing is fabulous. She hitches the reader right up into the booster seat and races off on a literary rollercoaster, pausing only to give hints as to what bought you there in the first place. This collection has an obvious descent in tone, opening with the laugh-out-loud problems of personal ads in ‘If you see something, say something’ (I think the phrase ‘tent sex’ was the one that got me). ‘Virgin Bones’ is a unique take on the duties of a squatting homeless family, and ‘Writing [in] the New Millennium’ is a comical, light-hearted account of a creative conference that any writer, emerging or otherwise can relate to.
Anyone who’s ever dealt with bureaucratic red tape will smirk along with ‘The Pirate Map’, while ‘Airlock’ begins the books’ emotional slope, describing the unfortunate reality of supervised visits within troubled families.
The titular story is undeniably harrowing. The letter details an account of primal savagery in an uncomfortable and distressing narrative. It’s not for the faint hearted, yet is one of those courageous stories that can leave the reader with a sense of personal perspective, if not utter hopelessness at the state of a war-ravaged nation.
Ultimately, I came away from this collection feeling encouraged. How can a story/stories give a reader so much hope? Extract the anxiety in ones chest? Bring a sense of joy and remind us to ‘keep the fun’? Then again, why else do we read?