The Sense of Touch
I have always enjoyed short stories. While my first love is the novel, there is something about a short story that enchants me. Somehow, a short story must tell a narrative, contained within the space of a few thousand words, and it must leave the reader satisfied without providing too neat an ending. A novel has an easier job, because it has a longer space with which to work, but a short story is more constrained, and thus the author must work some sort of magic in order to bring his stories properly to life. The stories contained within this anthology do come to life, and it is exactly the same life that comes from the places in which they are set.
The tales of this collection are set in the upper Midwest, and in them I found the same bleak beauty as I found when I first visited that part of the country. Whether its a husband and wife reuniting after an estrangement, a young woman visiting a snowbound neighbor, or a young man reflecting on the life of his friend, these stories are filled with what I can only describe as an eerie melancholy that somehow teems with life. Each story amazed me, and at times I found myself breathless with the writing and the way the characters seemed so real and yet so specifically connected to the pages I found them in. My one complaint is that, when each story ended, I found myself wishing there could have been a bit more, but I know that to add more would be to ruin the spell cast on the reader by the words. Each tale was told exactly the way it needed to be.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who appreciates the art of telling short stories, or even anyone who has not yet fully discovered that art. This book will certainly convert you.