While I don’t pick them up nearly as often as I ought, I have always enjoyed short stories: the all-to-brief glimpse into somewhere else; that vague feeling of unease and dissastifaction that comes with but a hint, or even a lack, of resolution. In You Know When the Men are Gone, Siobhan Fallon gives insight into the experience of soldiers and their families at war: men and women, officers and enlisted, in Iraq and at home. Set in Fort Hood, Texas, this series of interconnected short stories weaves together the small details of lives at war– separation and return, strained relationships, fear, loneliness and more– in a manner salient, spare, and devastating. It’s spot on, raw, edgy truth laid out in fiction, and goes onto my required reading list.
We all know the legend of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show – but do we know what shaped and drove the man to be the charismatic, fearless entertainer that he was? Andrea Warren explores the sometimes sad, always challenging life that formed the man Billy Cody became. From the death of his older brother, to becoming the man of the house as early as 11. A fascinating read for an adult – and if you can get your teenager to read it too, even better.
I loved the premise of this book – that amazing athletes who children idolize are real people too. As a parent, especially as my son is succeeding and failing at different activities, it’s a great perspective for him to have: That professional athletes are people who have won and lost throughout life. For my fourth-grader who is a Denver Broncos fan, he loved reading about Peyton Manning dancing the tango in front of his middle school. Other athletes included were Jackie Robinson, Yao Mind, Lionel Messi, Gabby Douglas, Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick. This is a fabulous read for middle grade kids who have an interest in sports – and covers a variety of sports, backgrounds and diversity with short stories and illustrations that make this especially good for middle grade readers.
You can say any manner of those things they say about writers like Margaret Atwood: she’s the mistress of dark storytelling, she has a way with painting a picture, she pens characters you can’t forget. Stereotypical things that all happen to be quite true. I’m a longtime lover of Margaret Atwood and her dark humor, and The Stone Mattress does not disappoint, though it tends more to the dark than the humorous. Read it today and consider of the dangers of aging gracelessly. Stark, enlightening, and mildly disturbing, these nine tales are what you might have come to expect from the woman who brought you Penelope’s version of the Odyessey and gems such as The Robber Bride.