Insightful stories that illuminate the fine line between solitude and loneliness and the limited choices open to people who...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

THE SENSE OF TOUCH

STORIES

The quiet plains of the North Country serve as a perfect backdrop for Parsons’ moving debut, a collection of short stories whose characters often live deeply solitary, if not always lonely, lives.

In the introductory story, “Hezekiah Number Three,” a young Bangladeshi-American tries to escape the confines of his small-town South Dakota upbringing by going to MIT for college, only to return when his family falls apart. While the reasons for Naseem Sayem’s alienation might be readily attributed to his being the only “caramel-skinned Bangladeshi” in school, Parsons expertly shows how loneliness isn’t only a product of racial tension. In “Beginning With Minneapolis,” for example, Evie Lund Baker finds her marriage to a wheat farmer stifling enough to move to the big city, leaving her husband, Waylon Baker, to tend to the wheat by himself. But Evie is haunted by a sense of disillusionment even in Minneapolis, where she has stretched an interim job “like pie dough across the last eight years.” Now, she “question[s] if she would ever slice through to what was cooking underneath.” Elsewhere, the narrator in the title story, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, attends school at the University of Minnesota so he can get a “clean break in a place where I didn’t own a wisp of history.” But, as the saying goes, you can run but you can’t hide. History chisels these characters’ lives to such an extent that they often become strangers to themselves, having arrived at a station they never envisioned and can’t easily recognize. “Touch is silent,” says a character in “The Sense of Touch.” “And silence is the only way to contemplate infinite things.” The glorious prairie landscape serves to amplify this silence, the starkness a crisp metaphor for the characters’ myriad disappointments. Black Hills National Forest, the endless prairie, even snow-bound Minneapolis—each is a perfect setting for these achingly beautiful stories. Not all Parsons’ characters face existential questions, though; many are just fine moving along with a steely resolve.

Insightful stories that illuminate the fine line between solitude and loneliness and the limited choices open to people who straddle that divide.

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988383777

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Aqueous Books

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more