Short Story Saturday: What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley NNeka Arimah

Man falls from skyWhen I read the first story of this collection, “The Future Looks Good”, I stopped, and reread it. I didn’t believe that I had correctly read the first time, or was sure that I had not properly understood. Yes, I had understood correctly. WOW.

“Light” is a lovely and touching story about how a father feels as his daughter grows, and one day, leaves the nest. “Who Will Meet You at Home” is just the opposite: a searing look at the lengths to which a woman will go in order to become a mother…to the point of death.

With stories as diverse as what I hope is Arimah’s readers, this is a volume worth your time. I suggest you read one story, then put the book down. Run an errand, complete a task, take a moment. Then read the next. You will want to give your mind time to process these stories, allowing them to fall into the proper folds, crevices, and bridges of your memory.

The Mystery of Julia Episcopa by John I. Rigoli and Diane Cummings

The Mystery of Julia Episcopa Summary:

In ancient Rome, a woman flees for her life. Her enemies are those she once called ‘brother’. Hidden beneath her blue cloak are secrets men will kill for – forgeries that prove the newly self-appointed bishops are not followers of the way, but pretenders who have seized power and will stop at nothing to shape this new religion to their own ends. Now, Julia – a woman who had once walked with Mary Magdalene and taught alongside Paul must preserve the legacy of the apostles in the face of terrifying danger.

My take: 3 looks

Initially, a tiny bit difficult to get into because of the rapid introduction of numerous characters. However, once the story was set in motion, and the characters and their relationships fell into place, it was easy reading. As a matter of fact, it was a riveting page-turner. Far from character-heavy, there were a handful of central characters, all with very different personalities and all nicely and richly drawn.

The writing takes the reader from past to present as the road to the climax is brilliantly planned. Interlaced with history, Biblical figures, and a notion that women meant much more to the early Christian church than any of the faith’s founding fathers care to admit, the premise is stunningly believable. Prepare to be a bit disillusioned as you read, but also invigorated at the drive of the characters, both ancient and contemporary.   

If you like this one, check out Donna Woolfolk Cross’s “Pope Joan”.  

Recommended.

Noir by Christopher Moore

NoirSummary:

It’s not every afternoon that an enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin tends bar. It’s love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an Air Force general named Remy arrives with some urgent business. ’Cause when you need something done, Sammy is the guy to go to; he’s got the connections on the street.

My take: Three looks

This is my third Moore book, and they are always very entertaining. I particularly loved the “wiseguy” feel of the dialogue, the choppiness of the conversations, and the straight-from-1940s-Hollywood imagery. Also, just returning from a trip to San Francisco, I was very familiar with the locales in the story.

The chapters are just enough to leave the reader wanting more, and add much motivation to the reading rhythm. The way it is written made it a page-turner for me. 

Moore always throws in a bit of the fantastic, though, and this novel was no exception. It wouldn’t be his writing if he didn’t demand the reader to suspend belief for at least part of the story. The fact that there was an alien who learned to drive, and a narrating snake named Petey should be enough for you to add this one to your TBR.

Recommended. 

Short Story Saturday: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Multi-award winner “The Paper Menagerie” anchors this wonderful collection of short stories by Ken Liu. As a matter of fact, this title story is the only one to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. I read this book in August of 2016. That is two years ago, and a few of the stories still crash into my mind occasionally. paper menagerie.jpg

For example, “State Change” is a story that I think of often. It was poignant, thought-provoking and a little crushing. It challenged the status quo, made me question things I had been told/taught my entire life, and had me reflect on my very essence. What is MY truth, versus the truth I have been led to believe?

“The Paper Menagerie” is a beautiful story about the complexities of heritage, race, and (what I clung to most savagely) the intricacies, both beautiful and ugly, of a mother-son relationship. Fraught with emotion, imbued with years and experience, and finally, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, it doesn’t take hundreds of pages to touch a heart or strike a nerve.

Various lengths and many different premises make up this wonderful collection, many of which have won awards on their own. Do yourself a favor, and pick this one up. Or better yet, purchase it for your collection. You are going to want to read it several times.

What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Summary:

Man falls from sky

A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.

My take: 3 looks

Since I am planning to feature this book on one of my Short Story Saturday spotlights, I will keep this review short and sweet. Some of the stories made no sense to me, feeling as if I were dropped into the middle of a conversation which ended before it was truly over. Like the middle of a sandwich with no bread. However, most of the stories had me on the edge of my seat, flipping pages with anticipation.

At first I was a bit reminded of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor because of the jarring nature of the ending of the opening story. I just didn’t expect it. However, Arimah is her own storyteller, with a distinct taste of African culture, yet universally relatable tales. It is with interest that I note a repetitive theme in mothers and daughters. As an only child, a daughter, to a very present mother, I appreciated this, and read these stories several times.

Written to shock, console, engage the little gray cells, and entertain, don’t let this one pass you by. Recommended

Short Story Saturday

To truly be a “reader”, you have to read every genre. One genre that is often overlooked is the short story. I am going to take the next few weeks to focus on this wonderful genre.

Today, I spotlight one of the most memorable short stories I have read in my 52 years: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

lotteryPublished in The New Yorker magazine in 1948, it is known as one of the most famous short stories in the history of American Literature. The nature of the story lulls the reader into a false sense of a pleasing and satisfying ending. With quite a twist ending, many subscribers to the magazine cancelled their subscriptions.

It has since been adapted for all sorts of media, including radio, television, and film.

If you have not read this wonderful piece of literature, or haven’t read it lately, I encourage you to do so. It is just as relevant now, perhaps even more so, as it was decades ago.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! After several frustrations with the blogging site, I decided to branch out, move up, and get my own site through WordPress. Welcome and thanks for joining me as my blogging enters a new phase, and my reading journey continues!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton