Thursday, May 28, 2015

This Book Will Change Your Life - Train Shots by the Vanessa Blakeslee.


     "Now remember, even though what 
     you're seeing appears to be standing       still, nothing ever is."

This line is from "Don't Forget the Beignets," but really, couldn't it come from any of the stories in Vanessa Blakeslee's most auspicious debut collection Train Shots? Okay, that's a rhetorical question, because yes it could, though more accurately, couldn't it apply to Blakeslee's writing in general? Which is to say, Blakeslee's work reminds us of that old cliche about the duck. They look so calm floating there above the surface of the water, but underneath there's a lot of busy happening. Which is not to say the stories here are cliche. They're anything but. But on the surface there is a sort of calm, even a kind of normalcy - a woman has her dogs stolen, a single mom rents a carriage house from a fundamentalist preacher, an ex-pat doctor's wife dies, a man survives cancer and finds himself in a new relationship - no ghosts certainly, or weird, bizarro fiction, nothing surreal, just lives lived, domestic and otherwise. Yet, underneath, and on the fringes, there are affairs, and death, and crime. And there is busy. Blakeslee's characters are always moving, struggling, fighting, and searching for answers that seem to almost be in reach, just as long as they remember that nothing is standing still and so they cannot either.

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