People Like Frank, Jenn Ashton's short story collection is peopled with diverse characters from disabled to immigrants to transients to... These characters speak loudly and clearly building bridges of understanding. I like how some of these stories are linked. This pairing invites a closer look, encourages a deeper understanding, or offers an opposing view.
Published by Tidewater Press
Published in 2020
I received my copy from the publisher.
Stories range in length from 3 to 12 pages. The collection is dyslexic-friendly. It's a perfect book to take with you on your morning commute. Some stories are heart-warm. Others are emotionally challenging.
Betty dies while knitting. All of her belongings--including her knitting--are donated to Goodwill. Francine works at Goodwill. What Betty was knitting and where it belongs becomes Francine's mystery.
2)The Bag and I
The narrator puts a recyclable frozen asparagus package in the recycle bin, but the garbage man tosses it out. Why? The narrator devotes herself to solving this mystery.
3)Remembering Vincent Price
Chrissy Evers a thirty-something university interim instructor attempts to heal from haunting childhood trauma.
4)The Instruction of Thomas Epperman
Inspired by her Ph.D. thesis, Isobel Emerson develops a new method of communication.
Acting with understanding and compassion, Alice fills roles that others may have overlooked or neglected.
This story is packed with information and I would have liked to see it fleshed out so I could have witnessed Alice's interactions. But maybe there's a reason she isn't given a voice.
A happily married woman looks forward to the day when her husband's dystonia is under control.
Recovering from a stroke, Allison is relearning many of the tasks we take for granted--like using the toilet.
Anne is wife and primary caregiver to the narrator who has dementia.
9)People Like Frank
Frank has dementia and his wife is noticing how it's changing him.
Fleeing a dangerous life, Lina reinvents herself.
We see the world through Blake Cheever's eyes and we slowly begin to realize why he is where he is and why he acts the way he does.
The story left me yearning for a happy life for Blake. It's a story that I'm sure will remain with me.
Inside the mind of someone who is experiencing a psychotic break.
At an early age, the narrator must raise her little brother Jimmy because her mother has bipolar disorder.
The oldest in a family that's 'good at breeding' (p. 127), Jess longs to escape her boring rural Canadian home.
The narrator reminisces about Sundays spent at Granny's with her ten cousins.
'The cold world outside stopped and we could breathe at Granny's table and just be ourselves.' (p. 136)
Such a loving tribute to a time, to family, to a woman--to Granny.
A Japanese-Canadian couple lives on a remote island in one of the last working lighthouses.
Far from feeling bored or isolated, Tekki, the narrator, finds intellectual challenges, beauty, and love.
17) Mea Culpa
'I'm writing because I want to tell you about the last stupid thing I'll ever do.' (p. 153)--become obsessed with Boris the electrician.
Set in Scotland, Sarah is in search of a life she can squeeze herself into. She keeps searching until she finds something that can be truly hers.
The narrator and her daughter travel in search of a home, in search of stillness.
Lessons learned by a 57-year-old traveler.
'I marvel at how I tried all my life to please so many people, when each person's experience of me was so different.' (p. 184)
Mark your calendar...
Wednesday, October 21
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