Friday, February 7, 2014
Isle Of Youth - Stories
Perilous danger aside, I found these stories to make up a great and cohesive collection, setting up shop at a strange intersection between Munro, Chandler, and Murakami. Natalie Serber, who some of you might see around the shop now and then, wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "Wonder and mystery are recurring motifs. The women here are one step ahead of disaster or one step behind it, and either way they are eager to discover what’s next . . . Van den Berg, in this wonderful collection, never lets us turn away." This is 100% on the money.
In my favorite story in the collection, "Opa-Locka," two sisters start working as private detectives, trailing a man whose wife thinks he's cheating on him, boilerplate detective stuff but from there things take a odd, and then grim, turn. The Isle of Youth features, among other things, relationships that have faltered, mysteries gone unsolved, and in the end, magic that has been exposed for what it is: a cheap parlor trick to distract you while your pocket is picked, which is something we've all encountered in one form or another, a part of what it means to grow older.