WELCOME THIEVES by Sean Beaudoin

WELCOME THIEVES

Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sad sacks, troubadours, and other beautiful losers populate this debut collection of short stories by YA novelist Beaudoin (Wise Young Fool, 2013, etc.).

About half the tales in Beaudoin’s quiver have some real grit, like Springsteen or Bob Seger songs written about the travails of Gen X–ers back in the golden days of flannel. That vibe is better than it sounds but it’s too often derailed by postmodern sarcasm and juvenile wit. The first two stories are pretty typical Midwestern Americana. In “Nick in Nine (9) Movements,” we follow a guy who thinks he’s going to grow up to be Slash (and doesn’t). In “The Rescues,” we pretty much meet the same Everyman, here finding his humanity in helping people fix their beater cars. Things take a darker turn in “Hey Monkey Chow,” mostly about a guy who has a near-miss sexual encounter with his adopted sister. “It’s weird how almost everyone does the worst thing, every time,” Beaudoin writes. “Gives in to their essential natures without thought or complaint. Our little brains suckered in by the first shiny thing. And then, when we have a chance not to be, a real and obvious chance to prove we’re actually half-human, still fuck it up.” In these and other tales, there’s also a perplexing and persistent immaturity that probably works well in the author’s novels but less so here. Only in “You Too Can Graduate in Three Years with a Degree in Contextual Semiotics” do we see a real portrayal of adulthood, and it ultimately finds its protagonist pining for the one that got away. Just to show he still has some tricks up his sleeve, Beaudoin slips in a mickey with “Base Omega Has Twelve Dictates,” a really funny satire of teen dystopian fiction.

A clever but uneven story collection that reads a bit like a present-day Replacements concert: you never know from page to page if you’re going to get the melancholy poet or the drunken joker.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61620-457-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016




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