Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sunday Salon: All Over by Roy Kesey

(Cross posted with The Short Review blog)

The Sunday
It's been a while since I blogged for The Sunday Salon, mainly because Sunday isn't a day of rest over here, it's the first day of the working week. But I have found a few minutes to mention the stunning short story collection I am reading right now, All Over, by Roy Kesey, published by Dzanc Books.

I was sent a review copy of this book and am reviewing it for The Short Review. I have never having read anything by Kesey, but I knew from the opening lines of the first story that he is a writer after my own heart. He loves playing with words and with language. There are quite a few words I have never heard before - I don't know if he has made them up or if I should get the dictionary out and expand my vocabulary! And some of the stories have Spanish titles, and there are characters of so many nationalities in this book, it is wondrous.

I would say that Kesey falls into the quirky/magical realist camp, for the most part. A reader can't assume that he or she is in the real world when embarking on these stories, but they are so beautifully written, their worlds are so consistent and compelling, that I willingly suspended disbelief and dove in.

I have read the whole collection first as a reader and am now re-reading it with my reviewer's hat on, and seeing things I didn't see the first time through - certain themes, the way endings are both shocking and satisying, a lack of names and places. Several of the stories seem totally nonsensical, yet they also manage to be poignant and sharp.

There are several stories that just didn't speak to me, as is the case with most collections. I didn't "get" what was going on, I was left too confused. But for the most part, I highly recommend this to all lovers of language and fantastic - and fantastical - writing.

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