Monday, May 24, 2010

War by Candlelight

by Daniel Alarcón

There was a time when I read a lot of short stories. Not sure why I stopped. I recently took a look at The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, but it's super long and a bunch of other people had it on hold. I did read a few stories, and those I read were quite good, but one can't just plow through a collection of short stories the way one can plow through a novel (or even really good creative nonfiction). Sometimes a bit of space is needed between stories.

Even in a collection whose stories are thematically (if loosely) linked — such as this collection by Peruvian-born, Alabama-raised author Daniel Alarcón — I like to relax a bit after finishing a story, before plunging into the next one. And stalling is pretty much what I'm doing now, not because I disliked this book, but because I wasn't really moved by it. Could be a case of me getting older and [shudder] more conservative, and not identifying with the "voice of the oppressed" as easily as when I was young and idealistic (and narcissistic); or maybe tragedy fatigue has gotten to me, and the million major catastrophes underway at any given moment have made me insensitive to the thousand little tragedies of everyday life in an impoverished city; or perhaps this collection of stories isn't so great. Or maybe I just didn't like it. It's okay not to like stuff.

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