This is an interesting collection of poetry and short stories, each with a very particular perspective on American Life. These are not representative of a study in the sociology of American Culture, per se... but rather, several moments of thought expressed through the viewpoint of an "unrepentantly average" American.
Although the poetry doesn't resonate with me... few poets' work does... I was intrigued by the short stories. The range of moments selected was curious to me. These are not topics I would have considered writing about, and I think that's why this collection is unique. These shorts are indicative of things we rarely think of, and they remind of the "background" of what Americana can be: singular wounds with added salt.
These are not the larger than life moments news broadcasters notice. They are the moments that stop time, that remind us of a different era, that end as life frequently does - mostly without clear resolution.
Having said that, I was frustrated with the final piece in the collection, Saying Goodbye To Baby Blue. I found myself drawn in to the narrative, and quickly became interested in the main character. I thought the backstory was well crafted and the set up for a revelation or perhaps a dramatic let down, beguiling. However, the ending lacked a payoff. Neither was I disheartened by the character's own sense of loss, nor uplifted by the progression of time. The end left me at odds... and perhaps that was the point... but it left me feeling as if I'd read a first draft of a deeper work. I'd like to see more done with this piece.
Of all the short stories, the one that pulled out front of the rest, for me, was A Slice of American Pie. Slightly dystopic, and a bit of a political commentary, I found this story to be more familiar than made me comfortable. The details could have been pulled from recent headlines, or last season's contrived reality television... or off the table of a Tarot Card reader's prognostication. Eerie in it's refusal to make an apology, I found the ending reminiscent of a welded rivet against the backdrop of American steel and it's often times questionable values. The psychological twist made the story well worth its pages.
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