October 31, 2010

Light Lifting - Alexander MacLeod

This book, the 4th in my Giller read-athon, arrived in my mailbox this week. It is a collection of short stories, and I found it to be a very fast read.

As I said in my review of This Cake is for the Party, I find it very difficult to review short story collections. Overall, my impressions of this one are mixed.

I found the voices in the different stories to be clear and distinct, and I found myself drawn right into the action, almost immediately. Each story is distinct, and as expected, I found myself strongly relating with some stories, and not with others. And similar to This Cake is for the Party, the stories were just the right length for "short" stories - long enough to really be able to get into them, but not so long as to be considered a novella.

My biggest critique is in the structure of some of the stories themselves. Most of them just seem to end abruptly, with no real ending or resolution. This usually left me wondering, well, what was the point of that?

My least favourite story? I didn't strongly dislike any of the stories. Possibly "Wonder About Parents". It seemed very disjointed, jumping back and forth in time between 3 periods in the life of a couple with no resolution to any of the story lines.

My favourite story? Hands down, "The Loop." It is the story of a kid (age 9-12) who has a delivery job on his bicycle for a local pharmacy. He poignantly describes the homes and lives of the lonely house-bound people that he visits. This really resonated with me, as my current job is as a home care physiotherapist, and I visit many of the people described in their homes because they can't get out to visit the physiotherapist. I never before realized how many lonely people there are out there. Really, a visit from the physiotherapist should NOT be the highlight of a person's week. I am going to give away the ending, because that is really what made the story so impact-ful - the narrator quits his job after a traumatic experience, in order to preserve what is left of his child-like outlook on life.

So another mixed review for this one. I have one book left on the Giller short-list to read, and I'm not sure if I am going to get to read it before the prize is announced on November 9 - I just received an e-mail from the store I ordered it from, telling me that it is on back-order and won't be shipped until mid-November.

This counts towards The Canadian Book Challenge over at The Book Mine Set.

And so, with just over a week left until the prize is announced, my current Giller standings are:
3. Light Lifting
5. ?


dada sarah said...

Hey Dada,
Okay, so I have at least two dozen books (none borrowed from you, to my knowledge) currently on the go - but I love shorts. May I borrow this one? :)

Kate said...

Of course you may, Dada Sarah! I'll put it in your mailbox tomorrow. Or maybe I'll invite myself over for tea some time to bring the book and visit you and Mlle Fleur. Alexander MacLeod was the guest on the CBC Ontario Today phone-in today :-)

Wanda said...

Sounds like one to borrow from the library. The story you liked the most sounds a little like The Paperboy's Winter by Tim Bowling, I reviewed it here if you're interested.

Kate said...

Wanda - I checked out your review, and it does look like there are some similar themes. There wasn't much laughter in this story though (or in any in this collection, come to think of it).