“Joan Connor loves words. . . . The cover of this book fails to suggest the riches within.”
Joan Connor loves words. She plays with them, uses them creatively, and writes in lots of different styles. For a short story collection, that works very well. Even if you have a broad vocabulary, chances are pretty good that you’ll reach for the dictionary more than once while reading this collection—and that’s a good thing.
Some of these stories read like stream-of-consciousness and others as straightforward prose. All have a subtle wistfulness, a loneliness about them, as the title implies. Yet several are very funny.
The first, “Men in Brown, involves a lonely woman who joins a book club—just to belong to something. When the books arrive by UPS, she falls for the driver dressed in brown. Turns out he’s a member of the same club—and off we go.
In “The Writing on the Wall,” Ms. Connor writes “I am not the sort of girl. I am not the sort of girl who is always the sort of girl who wants to be the sort of girl to whom boys tell beaver jokes.”
And “She never looks back at them, never giggles, just saunters slow toward the door, filches a can of spray paint from a shelf as she passes. Not a flinch.” Imagine finding a way to pair the words filch and flinch.
“Tide Walk” has passages that should be taught in writing programs. “A curve is the shape of a wing is the shape of an unfinished sentence, the silence defining the unspoken word. Rocks emerge from hovering sea fog as all things emerge from their absence. The ledges compose themselves like letters contemplated but never written or mailed, letters written in the solitude of the irrecoverable chance, addressed to the teacher who affected you, the lover who disaffected you.” Poetic, no?
From the same story, “When my waters broke, I was still untutored in love. I’d carried the moon in my belly for months, irritated as it tugged my body and moods into unnatural shapes. The labor was long. I was so busy with my pain that I did not recognize my screaming. With a bloody yank the doctor pulled not a moon from me but my son. My hospital gown opened at the front. He placed my son on my chest, and, as the squirmy squalling thing urinated on me, I tried to hug him back inside. I hadn’t foreseen feeling this, not this. My legs crusty with blood, I knew love in a moment, rising forever like a blue and rimless bowl to contain the sky.”
The cover of this book fails to suggest the riches within.