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madbkwm

madbkwm

Fitting Ends - Dan Chaon, Dan Smetanka First off, I just want to say that as a rule I don't like short stories. I'm a fairly quick reader and usually finish an average length (250 page or so) novel in about 48 hours. I find books of short stories annoying and unsatisfactory; every 15-30 minutes we have to start afresh with new characters/plot/etc. I mention this because part of my low rating is simply because this is a book of short stories and I am admitting my bias (I think even a great book of stories would probably only rank a 4 star rating from me). (Somewhat) paradoxically, the other reason for my low rating is that these stories were all so similar that at times I felt like I was re-reading the same story over and over.

The writing is well done and he has some great passages, but the characters are not really distinct between stories. They are all small town Nebraskans (several of them from the same town), but unlike other collections with distinct personalities who (sometimes) interact, these characters all live within the vacuum of their own story despite the similiarities among them.

We have the incestuous theme and the rejected/abandoned sibling wishing they had not been left behind in My Sister's Honeymoon, Transformations, and Fitting Ends.

Scott from Going Out and Hap in Fraternity are both college burnouts; Hap also is plagued with the car accident (as is Charlie in Accidents) and Scott, Charlie and Arlina have absent (either dead, insane, or drugged) mothers.

Spirit Voices and Rapid Transit were both about older guys who feel like schmucks for letting someone steal from them; in Spirit Voices the main character seems to come to grips with his life, while Alan in Rapid Transit just comes across as a psycho. 13 Windows and Do You Know What I mean were a bit different, but these were the least powerful and I thought lacking Chaon's commentary.

Overall I was unimpressed.