Wednesday, August 12, 2015

American Innovations - Rivka Galchen

American Innovations: StoriesThis is an odd book.  Collections of short stories tend to be odd in some sort of way, but this one is particularly odd, partly because of the nature of the stories and party because of the unevenness of the collection.  Some of the stories have a hint of the possible paranormal about them; in one, a woman watches her furniture walk away on its own.  Some of them seem to lack any real point or driving motive, such as the one that's basically just an accounting of how a mother and daughter bought and sold things.  Some are first person, some are third.  Some have narrators that may or may not be unreliable, leaving me with the vague, nagging sense that all the narrators might be unreliable and Galchen was just having a giggle at my expense.  It's not that great of a feeling.  There's an overall feeling in these stories that something is just off, for a reason that you can't quite put your finger on, and some of the title/story combinations made me feel like I was missing something massive, though even after a good deal of reflection I can't figure out what that missing aspect was.  The sense of disconnection that the main characters of the stories feel with everyone around them is a recurring theme, but it also makes them somewhat alien to me, the reader.  In the end, I wasn't taken in to a single one of these stories, but was left on the outside looking in, and that's not the best place for a reader to be.

2 stars out of 5.

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