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Monday, April 29, 2013

If a Stranger Approaches You by Laura Kasischke

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Title: If a Stranger Approaches You
Author: Laura Kasischke
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 145
ISBN: 9781936747498
Publisher: Sarabande Books
Twitter: @sarabandebooks
Format: Paperback
Available: March 5, 2013
Rating: 5/5 stars

Laura Kasischke continually impresses me with her writing. From my first experience with her writing, The Life Before Her Eyes, to this latest volume, her first collection of short fiction, she has continued to grow in her storytelling ability. Truthfully, I don't usually enjoy short fiction. For me, there is never enough time to become invested in the characters or what if happening to them before the story is over and I'm usually left wanting more. Kasischke, however, proves that she is just as capable of writing short fiction as she is novels, and also left me wanting more, but in a completely different fashion. While usually I fell there isn't enough in a short story to make it worth my while, Kasischke's story make me feel like there is almost too much, and that each of these stories could easily be fleshed out into a longer, more involved story, yet they work perfectly as they are.

I took down some brief notes on each story as I was reading them, so I will just copy those here:
  • Mona - "First story in and I'm reminded why Laura Kasischke is one of my favorite authors. Eerie."
  • Memorial - "Haunting"
  • Melody - "Obsessive love crazy"
  • Our Father - "This has to be an idea for a longer story. There is so much potential here!"
  • Somebody's Mistress, Somebody's Wife - "What the what?! I don't even understand and I love it. This is particularly what I'm enjoying most about these stories: sometimes they make no sense whatsoever, and I'm good with that."
  • Joyride - "A love story. Of sorts."
  • The Foreclosure - "Obsessive craving meets ghost story."
  • Search Continues for Elderly Man - "Death can come visiting in many forms."
  • The Barge - "Probably my least favorite of the collection. Not even sure how to explain anything about the story."
  • You're Going to Die - "The relationship between a parent and child is not always loving."
  • The Flowering Staff - "Family isn't always something that needs to be shared."
  • The Prisoners - "Again, another story that has a lot of potential to become something more."
  • I Hope This is Hell - "Sometimes you just need to get away from your life."
  • The Skill - "Knowing you can take a life and knowing when not to."
  • "If a Stranger Approaches You about Carrying a Foreign Object with You onto the Plane" - "Everyone has heard this phrase at the airport. But what if it really happens to you?"
Kasischke is a skilled artist at taking the mundane, everyday world and skewing it just enough to keep it recognizable but totally foreign. There is a disturbing familiarity to the world in her writing, yet parts are so strange that they almost seem like a dream, and these stories are no exception. There is a common thread of loneliness or despair throughout, but in some ways, I almost think these stories in some ways speak to our times. I don't know, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but even though these stories do seem a little skewed and not entirely grounded in reality, there is still an element of truth to them.

Highly recommended!!

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