Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reading Journal: Ladies and Gentlemen, by Adam Ross (2011)

A book I plucked off the shelf at random in my local library, and which I found to be one of the better short fiction collections I've read. Seven stories here, ranging from 20-50 pages, and all of them inviting and human and challenging. Ross knows exactly how long to linger in a scene, whether he's telling you about the strangest job interview ever (the opening story, "Futures," with a great twist that you'll feel like you should've seen coming but will still surprise you), or a first love at the age of 13 ("Middleman"). The set ranges from the harder-edged "When In Rome" - about getting mixed up with the small-time crooks your brother hangs around - to the domestic "In the Basement" - about that college friend who gives it all up just to get married - and in all the stories, finely drawn characters face tough choices and make strange moves that generally seem justified. Ross's narrative voice is confident and his prose is smooth, never distracting with gimmicks or lyrics and always letting the story reign supreme. I highly recommend this collection, and I can already feel it informing my work.

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