Monday, 21 April 2014

Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash

Review by The Mole

"A deeply humane, piercingly funny, and already widely acclaimed new short story collection that features men and women we all know or might be.
The stories in Tom Barbash's evocative and often darkly funny collection explore the myriad ways we try to connect to one another and to the sometimes cruel world around us. The newly single mother in 'The Break' interferes with her son's love life over his Christmas vacation from college. The anxious young man in 'Balloon Night' persists in hosting his and his wife's annual watch-the-Macy's-Thanksgiving-Day-Parade-floats-be-inflated party, while trying to keep the myth of his marriage equally afloat. The young narrator in 'The Women' watches his widowed father become the toast of Manhattan's midlife dating scene, as he struggles to find his own footing.
The characters in Stay Up with Me find new truths when the old ones have given out or shifted course. Barbash laces his narratives with sharp humour, psychological acuity, and pathos, creating deeply resonant and engaging stories that pierce the heart and linger in the imagination.

I generally prefer anthologies of short stories by different authors but this collection of stories really has a great harmony and style that works tremendously well. Summing the collection up is not easy which is why I have borrowed the publisher's synopsis. Overall its appeal comes from the continuity of style and the way that the approach to the theme differs so much with each story, yet it manages to be one complete collection.

David Mitchell is credited as saying that his favourite "...was always the story I'd just finished." and I certainly found that my favourite was the last in the book - "The Women". Or perhaps it was just such a perfect story to finish on? Or was it "Somebody's Son" because I found myself pondering it long after I'd moved on? Although the mother we see in "The Break" is someone we all know even if not quite to the same extreme. Or was it...? Perhaps I don't end up with a favourite after all but this collection will certainly go onto my shelf as I'm sure there is more enjoyment to be got from it on a re-read.

A really great read and the stories are short enough for coffee time reads although whether you will concentrate on anything else after, I don't know.

Currently available in kindle and hardback but shortly to be available in paperback.

Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Genre - Adult Short Stories

Buy Stay Up With Me from Amazon

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