Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Crash Diet

I don't what else I can say in an introduction to a Jill McCorkle book. If you want a background on her, check out my other reviews on her works here and here. With that said, I'm just going to dive in. [Bear me with—I don't really know how to review short stories too well].

Short stories are not usually my thing. It's not that I have anything against them; I'd just rather get sucked in to a story that will last more than 20 pages. However, a daily commute on public transportation is perfect for short stories, and I made a commitment to myself to spend time on each individual story. For instance, when I finished one story on the subway ride to work in the morning, I'd wait until the evening commute to start another one instead of immediately moving on to the next. I found this was the perfect way to read a short story collection, because I had the opportunity to mull over each story.

Crash Diet is McCorkle's first collection of stories, originally published in 1992 (she's since published three more, along with five novels). She tells stories of Southern women—some old, some young, some happy, some sad. The situations are relatable without being too generic, the emotions are raw and real, and the voices ooze honesty.

My three favorite stories in this collection—"Gold Mine," "Departures," and "Waiting for Hard Times to End"—I deem absolute perfection. "Gold Mine" tells the story of a young mother of two as her high school sweetheart husband carries on an affair and their roadside motel struggles for business after the newly opened interstate bypasses their small town. "Departures" is about the daily adjustments of a woman recently widowed as she comes to terms with her own emotions while shielding herself from the behaviors of everyone around her. "Waiting for Hard Times to End" was perhaps the most heartbreaking of the collection, as a sixteen-year-old girl waits daily by the mailbox for word from her older sister who was disowned by the family. These stories had such compelling characters and situations that they will stick with me for sure. Do you ever run across a book or author where you feel the need to underline about every line because it's just so poetic and perfect? That's McCorkle to me, particularly in these stories.

Just pick up a book by Jill McCorkle.

Do you like to read short stories? What are some of your favorite stories or collections?


Salvatore said...

Ha, good last line of the review!

Salvatore said...

Oh, and yes, I do enjoy story collections. I have Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies lined up for some time in the near future. Although it's kind of cliche at this point to say, I really do enjoy Joyce's 'The Dead'. I'm also partial to Virginia Woolf's 'The Searchlight' and 'The Symbol'. Wells Tower's book last year was also a pretty good contemporary collection.

booksexy said...

I don't read as many short story collections as some of my friends do, but lately there have been a few that have caught my interest. I'm in the middle of 'Things We Never Saw Coming' by Steven Amsterdam and Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Nocturnes' has been sitting on my shelf for awhile now. And there's always Max Brooks' 'World War Z' - which should count as a short story collection in my opinion. I suppose I like my short stories to form an overall story arc like a comic book series or Faulkner collection. Which may or may not defeat the purpose of reading short stories.