In this collection’s richly imagined title story, our brutal and resourceful protagonist is determined to protect her family from a murderous, shark-ridden world—at any cost. Elsewhere, an old woman uncovers a sinister plot while looking after a friend’s plants (“Orchids”), and a girl in the war-torn countryside befriends an unlikely creature (“Keeper of the Glass”). In “Barnstormers,” a futuristic flying circus tries to forestall bankruptcy with one last memorable show. At the heart of “Sheila” is the terrible choice a retired judge must make when faced with the destruction of his beloved robotic dog, and “Yuri, in a Blue Dress” follows one of the last survivors of an alien invasion as she seeks help.
Extending from World War II to the far future, these fifteen stories offer a gorgeously observed perspective on our desire for connection and what it means to have compassion—for ourselves, for one another, for our past…and for whatever lies beyond.
Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Little A (February 10, 2015)
What a great and inventive collection of stories. I was hooked from the start with Sheila which had me in tears. (A little embarrassing since I was sitting in the exam room of my allergist and she walked in to find me wiping my eyes and stuffing the book back into my purse.) I do defy anyone with a beloved pet not to get misty over this story of a retired judge who will be breaking the law and will lose his pension if he doesn't have his mechanical springer spaniel put down when robotic pets are outlawed. Animals play a role in several stories--whether loved as aging pets as in Sheila or White Chalk Road, an obligation left by a family member in Tiger Bright, or more sinisterly as in the word-stealing bats in Aleph Bat and when animals and vegetation get the "Fever" in the titular The Thing About Great White Sharks. (Imagine your houseplants, trees along the sidewalk, and family pets attacking you.) Plants actually help in Orchids, one of my favorite stories--where an elderly widow, Mrs. Cynthia Fleisbein is taking care of her friend Roland's orchids and finds more than she bargained for. Another favorite was Storybag, set in 1960 where Ed, a bible salesman, comes across a magical bag that seems to have whatever his potential clients want inside it--and those wants seem tied to fairy tales and folk stories. Many of the stories have a futuristic or science fiction slant, others touch on war and history like Poland 1952 and Keeper of the Glass, or what happens when the man playing Herman Melville in a production of great writers falls in love with the woman playing Nathanial Hawthorne in Melville Loves Hawthorne. Although I didn't love every story (very common in a story collection) and a couple of them made me scratch my head a bit, I really enjoyed the collection as a whole. Most of the offerings left me wanting more--which I think is the mark of great short story writing. I love the creativity of author Rebecca Adams Wright and her ability to paint such interesting and provocative images with her words. I look forward to reading her future work.
Author Notes: Rebecca Adams Wright is a 2011 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a former University of Michigan Zell Writing Fellow. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and has won the Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize. Rebecca lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her husband and daughter.
You can connect with Rebecca Adams Wright on her website.
This isn't a foodie book but there was food to be found in certain stories. In Melville Loves Hawthorne, Melville is a soap maker with some very appetizing scents like Coconut Water, Avocado Spice, Lemon Tea, Chocolate Pepper, Orange Clove, Warm Merlot, and Salted Cream. He considers going out for celebratory cinnamon rolls and hitting up a Chinese Buffet. In Poland 1952 there is mention of fish--flounder, plums, cherries and a paper cone of popcorn, In White Chalk Road there is a red lacquered box of 'elegant snacks' like cheeses veined with blue mold, ripe black plums, delicate crackers, and little black pencil points of caviar. In the end, I took inspiration from two favorite stories, combining the mimosas enjoyed between friends in Orchids and a diner breakfast staple of sunny-side-up eggs from Storybag.
Although I like a classic mimosa, sometimes it is fun to mix it up a little so I decided to make Ruby Red Grapefruit Mimosas. They aren't as sweet as the orange juice version (which I like as it makes them more refreshing), but the citrus liqueur adds some sweetness and you could add simple syrup if you wanted too. Perfect for a Sunday breakfast of local eggs on toast.
Ruby Red Grapefruit Mimosas
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
8 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
2 oz citrus liqueur (like Gram Marnier, Cointreu, Limoncello)
8 oz champagne (pink is fun) or Prosecco
2 slices of fresh grapefruit to garnish
Place grapefruit juice and liquor to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled and well-mixed.
Strain into glasses. Top with champagne and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
Notes/Results: Crisp, slightly tart, and refreshing--a happy little mimosa that wakes up any weekend morning. I used a pink champagne which was actually cheaper than Prosecco and added to the rosy pink shade of the drink. I know mimosas are usually served in champagne flutes but I actually prefer drinking them in a glass--it seems less fussy. These mimosas made even a simple breakfast of eggs and toast festive. I would make them again.
I am sending this book review post to Novel Food, a culinary/literary event hosted by my friend and fellow Cook the Books host Simona at Briciole. This is the 23rd edition of this event where great food and great books come together and the deadline for participating is Monday, March 23, 2015. Simona will be rounding up the entries on her blog shortly after the deadline so you can see all of the wonderful literature-inspired dishes.
Note: A review copy of "The Thing About Great White Sharks" was provided to me 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.
You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.