A great collection of Heinrich Böll’s work, though with so many stories and novellas, it’s hard to comment on them here. His writing style is appealing, mostly clear and to the point, but with enough detail to paint a scene. The stories focusing on the war and just after seemed best to me; those touching upon religion and/or philosophy did not feel as compelling.
Tag Archive for Short Stories
I liked the writing style of these stories, and they were interesting in terms of where and who they focused on. But a lot of the stories didn’t really go anywhere and felt incomplete. Some were more like portraits of individual characters, but without a story. Others seemed to be heading to a climax, but then abruptly ended without any resolution. A bit of a mixed bag, really.
While looking for additional novels about immigrant experiences, I found The Last Chicken in America: A Novel in Stories by Ellen Litman, which focuses on Russian immigrants and their families in Pittsburgh. The book is made up of several short stories which are intertwined by the recurring characters, including direct immigrants and their children, and the experiences they have in coming to and living in the US.
The short story collection as novel concept was interesting, and I kind of liked getting to switch from one main character to another, or to a group of characters. However, it all felt a bit repetitive after awhile, and I also started to have a hard time telling some of the characters apart, especially because sometimes references would be made to an unnamed person, who might or might not have been someone in a previous story.
After reading The Favorites by Mary Yukari Waters, which was a really wonderful book, I wanted to read anything else Waters had written. Her only other published work is The Laws of Evening: Stories, a collection of short stories, which I found at the library. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed when I read it.
Whereas The Favorites was deliciously slow and every little detail was there to be enjoyed, as can happen with a novel, the short stories in The Laws of Evening felt so rushed and too fast-paced. I think this comes mostly from the nature of the format, so I tried to be forgiving as I read on.
However, I felt a bit tired from the somewhat repetitive stories. Some of them were obviously developed into The Favorites, so I’d already seen some of these pieces, just with different characters. And the stories that didn’t fall into this category just didn’t keep my interest that much and felt a bit stale.
I won’t say that The Laws of Evening is a bad read, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as The Favorites. It might have been better if I’d read them in the other order, but I am still glad to have read and enjoyed The Favorites as I did.