Sunday, August 10, 2008

months and seasons by Christopher Meeks

I've been reading a lot of short story collections lately, not my usual fare, but short stories are a good way to get a sense of a writer, seeing how he or she handles a number of different plotlines, looking at the way stories develop, the way characters are presented and the patterns that emerge over the course of the book. months and seasons is very different from the recent collections I reviewed by Jhumpa Lahiri and Sana Krasikov. His characters are quirky and unpredictable and the stories are refreshingly modern. From Halloween parties in LA to a summer camp in northern Minnesota, his characters never seemed to do the expected thing.

In perhaps my favorite of the stories, "Breaking Water," a former fashion model finds her life making several dramatic shifts. She is recovering from open heart surgery when her husband announces he wants a divorce, their marriage weakened by infertility and infidelity. In the aftermath, she goes to art school, hoping to find some new path for herself. She expects a new lover to be horrified by her scar, but he finds it "the coolest scarification" he's ever seen; she has to remind him that it isn't body art. Her actions and his reponses are unexpected but authentic - people often don't do what you expect them to.

Along similar lines, the characters in "The Sun is a Billiard Ball" don't react to their health crisis in typical ways. Albert has seen the telltale signs, but even though his father died from prostate cancer, Albert has refused to see the doctor, pretending the symptoms will go away. Waking up from a one night stand with Jazz, Wade gets a nasty shock. Still, weeks later, he seeks Jazz out and not only stands by her but wants to continue their relationship.

In "A Shoe Falls", a man wakes up and decides he wants out of his marriage. He's tired of his wife and her shoe fetish and their bickering. He finds his efforts thwarted when his wife is suddenly agreeable...and that just makes him grumpier.

The book is fairly short and some of the stories are only a page or two in length, but the book is still an enjoyable read. Christopher Meeks is a writing teacher and playwright, and has previously published another book of short stories, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. You can purchase months and seasons at Amazon.com.

3 comments:

Alea said...

I haven't read Breaking Water yet, but I'm looking forward to it!

readerville said...

I also enjoyed this book and am giving away a signed copy here . Glad to see other bloggers supporting a great up-and-coming writer.

Melissa Walker said...

I adore short story books with some that just last a page. Going in and out of worlds like that, quickly, is enjoyable, I think. Nice review!