Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alice's Review: Shoes Hair Nails

Shoes Hair NailsSummary:  The settings of these stories - 1980s New York City, 1950s Brooklyn, Las Vegas, an exurban town post-9/11 - are as diverse as the rich palette of characters drawn with heart, humor, and sensuality. With a sharp sense of the telling detail, Deborah Batterman weaves narratives around the everyday symbols in our world and their resonance in our lives.

Review:  One of the reasons I love doing this is because I get to read books I may not otherwise have come across.  Sometimes a book is just okay, other times the book is crazy good.  I'm reallly happy this is one of those times.

Shoes Hair Nails is a collection of short stories by Deborah Batterman.  I am a fan of short stories because I like that there is a beginning, middle and end wrapped up in a little package.  I like the diversity of a collection.  With Shoes Hair Nails, I never knew what I was going to get next.  From tales of abandoment to suicide to recovery to grief, the stories covered a wide spectrum of topics.

Some of my favorites were Crazy Charlotte about a free-spirited young mother and the effect that neighborhood gossip had on her and her family.  I loved Charlotte.  Ms. Batterman created a character who put her children first, who wanted them to learn to think for themselves and experience the kind of life that is not found solely in a classroom.

I also liked Hair, which describes Sabrina's journey into adulthood after her mother left her to go buy a pack of cigarettes and never came back.  She was six years old.

Nails was another good one.  It was especially magical to me because it started as a testimate to getting over a broken heart (or moving on from a failed relationship) but became the redemption of a woman named Bridie.

Talking Gets You Nowhere is one of my favorites as well.  I love how it is told in both the mother and daughter's points of view.  I really liked Rhonda and how this novel was a sort of coming of age for her.  Actually, it was a coming of age for her mother too.  Rhonda is the one I am most curious about.  I would love to know what is going on with her now.

Reading these stories, I was so engrossed in the lives of the new friends I made that I was sad to see their story end.  I want to know more.  This book is a keeper for me and one I know I will go back to.  It's the kind of book that as your read it again, you'll discover something you missed the first time around.  One line I won't forget however is Bridie describing a lost love:

"Every ounce of me aching with a longing that become a kind of sustenance.  Every square inch of this room, of me, flooded, again, with his music."

Man, that's some good stuff.  I'm looking forward to reading what Ms. Batterman has for us next.

Final Take: 4/5

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