In a new suite of powerful and incisive stories, Justin Taylor captures the lives of men and women unmoored from their pasts and uncertain of their futures.Writing
A man writes his girlfriend a Dear John letter, gets in his car, and just drives. A widowed insomniac is roused from malaise when an alligator appears in her backyard. A group of college friends try to stay close after graduation, but are drawn away from-and back toward-each other by the choices they make. A boy's friendship with a pair of identical twins undergoes a strange and tragic evolution over the course of adolescence. A promising academic and her fiancée attempt to finish their dissertations, but struggle with writer's block, a nasty secret, and their own expert knowledge of Freud.
From an East Village rooftop to a cabin in Tennessee, from the Florida suburbs to Hong Kong, Taylor covers a vast emotional and geographic landscape while ushering us into an abiding intimacy with his characters. Flings is a commanding work of fiction that captures the contemporary search for identity, connection, and a place to call home.
I loved Taylor's style in these stories. They're so well done. Of course I had favorites ("Sungold" being my favorite), but the collection as a whole is just lovely. Several of the stories connect in small ways, and those connectors gave the whole work a sense of unity. The length of each story varies, but I feel like Taylor did a great job of ending each story at an appropriate moment. Nothing feels too long or too short for its own unique effect.
I'm such a fan of short stories and I knew this collection would be great based on the review I had seen before reading it. I wasn't at all disappointed. It has all of my favorite elements of short stories - just enough character building that you are invested in the story and, of course, the little twist at the end that makes it mean something. I'm not always a fan of connected short stories, but I feel like it worked really well in this case. If you aren't a fan of short stories, you might not find this to be a particularly enthralling read, however. It's definitely on the literary side and much more think-y than plot-y.
If you like short stories, you must give this one a try. It's full of snapshots of everyday modern life and the uncertainties we all face. I'll definitely be going back through my copies of Best American Short Stories to find his other works, which I'm almost positive have been included at least once.
Thank you to TLC for letting me be on the tour (and my apologies for posting this late!). Click here to see the other stops on the tour.