Parrish weaves linked, darkly humorous tales of aging, death, love and alcoholism using the gothic tropes of Southern literary fiction.
In the story “And To the Ones Left Behind,” a woman named Patty sets out on a mission to win her brother’s wife back for him. Patty believes she can find and deliver Lavinia by giving her a newfound sense of gratitude for the relationship. This misconception proves comical, however, as Patty faces her own vulnerabilities; she thought she knew her brother inside and out, but once she sees her brother’s shambling house and excessive drinking habits, she quickly realizes that Lavinia may have been right to leave. However, at the story’s heart, Patty recognizes the bond of siblinghood that overlooks such flaws in favor of the good. Other stories in the collection similarly offer glimpses of desolation, only to point out the light in the darkness. As Parrish cleverly links her stories, creating a rich world of haphazard relationships and beautiful messes, characters appear as heroes in some tales and struggle in others. Some stories feel more like portraits than plots, as she paints scenes and develops characters’ desires through summary and brush stroke rather than through actions or events, while bringing a sense of light to the ending of each story. However, the collection often relies on summary to cover too much ground; at times, readers may hunger for more intense moments of dialogue or close-up examinations of images and experiences. That said, this collection will speak to readers who are interested in its butterfly effect of family bonds and interactions.
A successful collage of linked stories set in a rich, dysfunctional world.