Book Review: Fondly by Colin Winnette
August 28, 2013 2 Comments
The publisher of this book is known (by me) for its quirky stories, always weird, and always captivating. So I read The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, about a boy with a very strange family, The Snow Whale, about a man who goes whale hunting and The Bee-Loud Glade, about a hermit. Fondly is presented as two novellas in one book, but I would say it contains a lot of short stories, followed by a novella.
Fondly: What it is about
The publisher says: “In two artfully crafted novellas, Colin Winnette offers a sly and sinister portrayal of lineage and loss, and the roles we all play in writing our own family history. Written in a seamless, entrancing style, Gainesville follows the twisted branches of a restless family tree in a small Texas town. As tragedy strikes each generation in increasingly skewed fashion, what remains is the relentless passage of time toward an eerily familiar pattern of violence.
In One Story, The Two Sisters is woven from an array of beautifully haunting short stories. It details the lives of two sisters, both cast as wildly imaginative entities, each more bizarre than the next. Winnette joyfully plays with life forms as he presents the sisters as (1) an olive at the bottom of a dirty martini; (2) Shel Silverstein; (3) transoceanic swimmers, and so on. The result is an entertaining, skilful meditation on art, love, family, the creative impulse, and what can and cannot be communicated in a single story, or a single life.”
Fondly: What I thought
As I’m not a short story lover, especially not the very short kind, I found the first part of the book, In One Story, The Two Sisters, a little bit challenging to read. Some of the stories are really very short and stop where maybe I had wanted more. On the other hand, the stories were very well written, they read almost like fairy tales, and the things that happen to the two sisters are so bizarre, it’s really amazing that an author can think them up.
I’m sure a short story lover who can enjoys some weirdness will love these stories, too. The sisters where quite similar over the different stories, but definitely not the same sisters in all the stories, if only because in one story they are two halves of an olive! Generally, they are quite different in what they want to achieve, but also similar because of their family bond and the fact that in many of the stories, it’s the two sisters against (or as opposed to) the rest of the world.
I liked Gainsville even better. This is the story of several generations of a family, who are struggling with low wages and violence. The people that are followed through the (four or five) generations either kill someone or are killed themselves and there is no happy ending for any of them. The ending, in fact, was rather ambiguous to me. I wasn’t sure how it fitted in the story exactly, and felt a bit of a let down.
I should have written a family tree for this family, as I moved from one family member to a next generation, to a step brother’s daughter, etc. I cannot repeat the story at all, there are just a few situations that I do remember, but in all, it was a very entertaining story.
For people who love quirky, well-written stories.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)
Number of pages: 246
First published: 2013
I got this: from Atticus Books for review
Genre: contemporary fiction, short stories