by Josh Green
This solid short story collection is packed with grim pictures of “normal” life. Each of the 18 stories clocks in between 10 and 15 pages, just long enough to give the reader a glimpse into the sordid lives of its characters. A cop on the brink of self-destruction, a desperate journalist, a junkie, a soldier, a honeymooning couple, Green catches each of them at their worst moment and then chronicles it for our amusement. The result is a powerful portrait of broken souls.
In “Missing Athena” we meet a grieving husband, trying to care for his son while longing for his wife. “Axis of Symmetry” paints a vicious picture of a jealous ex-husband. “The Abduction” breaks your heart. It’s hard to say exactly where this book hooks you, but it’s hard to put it down.
Each of the stories stands alone, but their subjects tend to have one common thread: unhappiness. Whether it’s a crumbling marriage or drug addiction, they’re all struggling with something. In Atlanta, the capital of the "Dirty South" people are just trying to make it through the day.
BOTTOM LINE: The beautiful writing and palpable descriptions make this a quick read and great collection.
“No one pays attention to calendars but there’s something in the Friday air you can taste, the sweet sugar of workaday liberation.”
Side Note: Men’s Health just listed the book as one of the top 11 best reads for the summer, alongside Stephen King and Dan Brown’s new novels.
Photo of Atlanta from here.