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Review by g emil reutter
Melissa Yancy writes in layers. Yancy weaves the professional with the personal creating strong characters who rise to the challenges of life no matter the illness or personal traits. These are stories of strength and although they deal with illness there is no pity, but there are no superheroes either. These complex characters come to life with dynamic yet flawed lives. Yancy paints these stories with a strong brush of realism. In Dog Years she brings us into the lives of a young boy struggling with muscular dystrophy and his interactions with family and parents, (geneticists), who are researching a cure for the illness. The boy lives his life in dog years to extend his life beyond what will be a young death in human years. His parents struggle to find a cure that they know if they find will not save their son. Consider This Case concerns a fetal surgeon who is competent and at the top of his game yet inattentive to his personal life, somewhat insecure in that life. His somewhat disconnected father flies west from Virginia to die in his son’s house. Yancy does a remarkable job in using the short story format to define this complex relationship.The stories in this collection are all set within the miracles of modern medicine melded with the everyday lives of her characters. She brings us into the human condition, flaws and success, yet she writes in a manner that brings us into an understanding. Time is a central focus of these stories of how no matter what we do, time decides who will remain and who will go, time created by man in fact defines lives lived and lives that continue. Yancy does not lean on the cliché of disappointment for she is a crafter of short stories that are written in passion yet offer the reader a practical approach to the problems of her characters who will be remembered long after the story is read.
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
By Jacob M. Appel
Black Lawrence Press – 2016
Review by g emil reutter
Jacob Appel is an observer of life and family. This collection of short stories captures the internal dynamics of family or what we believe family is. He brings to us the intimacy of sibling rivalry, parental impact, of betrayal with a set of unique characters set in bizarre circumstances and the everyday.
In the story, The Butcher’s Music, Appel sets the tone for this compelling collection of stories. We are introduced to two sisters, one a butcher the other a professional musician who plays a Tecchler cello. In the end Appel leaves us to decide who the butcher is and who is not. In Boundaries he brings us to a remote Customs Station on the Vermont and Canadian border on Christmas. The two agents are snowed in preparing a holiday dinner for the evening and ready to watch It’s A Wonderful Life for entertainment. In this story Appel captures the intimacy between the two agents who are yet to be romantically involved and how their evening is interrupted by a young woman who approaches their station to enter the United States when they discover her skin is covered in a sheaf of pustules. The tension in the story rises as they have to take her in the station and are exposed to her illness. Appel captures the media obsession and irresponsibility with a story that may not be what it is and the reports on cable news.
Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana is at times dark, at times humorous. Appel’s development of characters in these short stories is simply outstanding and compelling. As one turns the page from one story to the next an unexpected adventure awaits the reader.
You can find the book here: http://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781625579539/coulrophobia–fata-morgana.aspx
g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at:https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/