In Which Brief Stories Are Told (Made in Michigan Writers) (Paperback)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814335079, 134pp.
Publication Date: March 15, 2011
In Which Brief Stories Are Told presents a collage of moments in the lives of average people-car salesmen and motel maids, mothers and fathers, neighbors and professional colleagues-with small-town northern Michigan as a backdrop. Author Phillip Sterling invites readers to share his characters' small tragedies and victories in fifteen deceptively simple, intimate stories. While varied in length from short glimpses to longer narratives, each of the stories is defined by a unique perspective, as characters present their version of a story-sometimes other peoples' stories-clouded by the same emotion, judgment, and passing of time that inhabit all of our memories.
The stories in this collection contain laments and mysteries: a car salesman implicates himself in a crime that he is not sure ever took place, a third-shift convenience store clerk accepts her unfortunate disfigurement, dinner parties generate jealousy and resignation among their participants, a sister's disappearance creates a long-standing familial black hole, a sailboat comes to symbolize the longing of an elderly couple, and a daughter finds answers in her father's speechlessness. In what is often unspoken or unacknowledged, Sterling's narrators draw readers into complicity. Readers will identify with these characters, who weigh the what-ifs and could-haves at length, often for longer than it takes to recount the actual events of their stories, revealing the telltale signs of our own heartache, guilt, or feelings of forgiveness in the process.
Sterling's realistic and intriguing stories offer haunting glimpses of characters and situations that are original but familiar. Readers of short fiction and enthusiasts of Michigan stories will enjoy this unique collection.