A Brief Moment of Weightlessness is a collection of short stories that illuminate the beauty and extraordinariness of “ordinary” lives. Each explores the human desire for connectedness and grace. The stories range from large upheavals such as how a marriage shifts when a spouse loses a limb or how a girl reconfigures her world when her father goes to jail, to smaller moments such as when a woman experiences wonder again on a visit to a nursing home with her child and their dog, or when a man finds redemption in the midst of tragedy after being bitten by his dying dog.
These illuminating, heartbreaking, poignant, astute stories take on serious issues of death/dying, injury, infidelity, aftermath of war, estrangement and more, but without a sense of gloom that could overwhelm them. They often, though not always, find that glimmer of hope or opportunity, and they are told in a voice that can cut to the quick of a character or conflict, with endings that don’t always resolve neatly. These stories explore, dissect and celebrate those small moments within the larger events that make all of our lives extraordinary.
Publisher: Mayapple Press, June 2014
Short stories: 132 pages
Size-wise, A Brief Moment of Weightlessness is a quick read with the eleven stories clocking in at just 126 pages. The simple beauty and tranquility of Victoria Fish's writing slows down the pace and makes you want to savor each one. The characters in these stories could be your neighbors, friends, or family, they feel very real. With heavy subjects--grief, aging, death, illness, marital and relationship issues, there is a touch of melancholy to most of the stories, but there are glimpses of light and humor tucked in too. There were stories I preferred, that captured me more than others but each one established the character, pulled me into their life and then left me wanting more--the mark of a good story. This is Fish's debut book and hopefully she will be sharing more of her talent in future collections.
Author Notes: In addition to writing short stories, Victoria Fish is pursuing her Masters of Social Work. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Hunger Mountain, Slow Trains, Wild River Review, and Literary Mama. She lives with her husband and three boys in the hills of Vermont. A Brief Moment of Weightlessness is her first book.
Connect with her on her website, vickyfish.com.
There is food sprinkled here and there throughout the book such as a peanut butter and fluff sandwich shared with some determined ants, grilled trout and corn-on-the cob at a lake house, chocolate chip pancakes swirled with mountains of whipped cream for a boy battling cancer while his parents wait to find out how his treatment is progressing, a Thanksgiving dinner interrupted by a trip to the emergency room. One of the characters is a caterer and baker who takes an angel food cake with raspberry amaretto sauce to her glamorous new neighbor--which did sound very tempting, but it is way too hot and humid for baking this week.
Sometimes I choose a book-inspired dish for what I am craving as much as the book itself--very much the case here. Two stories mentioned boiling eggs. In Sari, a moving story where an American girl on an exchange program in India grieves for her mother, and in Phantom Pain, where a woman adjusts to life after her husband loses his leg in an accident after they argue. Boiled eggs make me think of deviled eggs and although often just a simple deviled egg is what I crave, I was in the mood for something a little more special. From D'Lish Deviled Eggs by Kathy Casey (a great little cookbook for us deviled egg fans), the recipe for Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Sour Cream & Chives caught my eye. I made a few changes based on what I had on hand--dill instead of chives, yogurt in place of sour cream, and what I like--how can you have smoked salmon and red onion without tossing in capers? (My changes to the recipe are noted in red below.)
A little something ordinary made extraordinary--it seems fitting for these stories.
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Capers and Dill
Adapted from D'Lish Deviled Eggs by Kathy Casey
1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp regular or low-fat sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard (I used Gulden's spicy mustard)
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp salt
(I added ground black pepper)
2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives (I used fresh dill)
2 oz (1/4 cup) smoked salmon, hot or cold-smoked, minced
(I added 1 Tbsp capers, drained)
3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives (I used fresh dill)
3 Tbsp finely minced red onion
1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
(I added 1 Tbsp capers, drained)
(I added 1 oz smoked salmon, chopped)
Halve boiled eggs lengthwise and place yolks into a mixing bowl.
With a fork, mask yolks until smooth. Add mayo,
Using a pastry bag or spoon, fill the eggs, dividing the filling evenly. Mix the topping in a small bowl and top each egg with a small amount of the mixture.
Notes/Results: These are tasty little bites--or rather tasty little 'two-bites' with their combination of flavors and textures. The sour cream (yogurt in my case) keeps them ultra creamy and the little pieces of salmon and the capers I added, give them a great smoky-briny taste. I let my red onion soak for a bit in the vinegar to take the edge off, and that quick pickling worked really well as they didn't overpower the other ingredients as red onions can sometimes do. When you want something a little fancier than your standard deviled egg, these are a great choice. I would make them again.
Note: A review copy of "A Brief Moment of Weightlessness" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
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