Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book Review | Before the Ripcord Broke: Stories

In his new collection of short stories, Charlie Close gives us people who try, succeed, and sometimes fail to connect with others.

He gives us a poor family celebrating its first Halloween in a rich neighborhood, a waitress trying to get the attention of the silent new man in town, teachers talking about their students’ crushes, a boy stuck in a car with the kid he beat up, a roadie who finally busts loose during sound check, a business consultant who assassinates her client, and a disgraced accountant who frames his wife for his own murder.

The stories are told with Charlie Close’s unique insight, compassion, and biting sense of humor. They are dark, comic, sweet, ironic, and…weird.

Read Before the Ripcord Broke and discover that, however different we may feel, we are not so different after all.

I tried writing my own synopsis but every time I tried, the description fell flat. The one above is much better. In the second paragraph of the synopsis, I couldn't help but smile, for it was a wonderful time thinking back on the stories that I have recently finished reading.

Some may go into this collection of short stories with the mindset that they are nothing special, but they would be wrong - and too quick to judge. I myself was skeptical at first because I'm not a frequent short story reader. Then I stopped being my close minded self and started reading the damn stories. I was trying to be more open minded. It paid off.

I went into these stories having relatively no idea what to expect. After the first few stories I still felt iffy. Hours upon hours later, I was sucked in and couldn't stop scrolling. The short and very short stories were attention grabbing for what they were. Simple, confusing, awkward, blunt - pick any adjective because whichever you choose would describe one or more of the many stories throughout.

Truthfully, I was shocked by how many of the stories reflected my own life. A bully stuck in the car with the kid he beat up - been there, sadly done that. Two grown sisters that don't see eye to eye - sounds familiar. Reminiscing while moving out of a dorm - yep, a recent feat of mine. Watching time fly by - always. I noticed these unavoidable parallels immediately. Family issues. Friendship issues. Relationship issues, right down to the names. It was scary, but refreshing to read that other people understand. The author clearly comprehends that we are all connected in different ways, to various individuals. It is and will forever be the way life works.

Also, I would love to list a few of my favorite short stories below with tidbits of commentary:
  • Lay [Reminded me of my dog that aged before I even noticed]
  • The Isomorphs [2nd favorite story]
  • Four [Basically my family members]
  • The Last Story of the Evening [Always trying to find meaning]
  • Argumentative Speech [This one is important]
  • Don't Ride with Strangers [Favorite story]
  • Candy Witch [Jenny is me]
There were loads of stories that made me laugh, grimace, or tear up but these were the few that really stood out to me.

I was pleasantly surprised with these stories as a whole. The very short stories packed a punch, but I don't want to list any because that would ruin them for future readers. In the end, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this collection of stories and I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review his work. I would recommend to those who enjoy quick contemporary or anything on the more realistic side of the spectrum.

4 out of 5 stars

If you would like to know more about the author, check out his website:

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