I'm a fan of short stories, both as a reader and as a writer. I love them for their ability to capture a whole story world in a economical amount of words. Mostly, I love that the entire story can usually be read in a single sitting, allowing me to fully embrace the entire experience without interruption. Thank You to Viking Penguin Group for an advanced copy of Rebecca Makkai's short story collection, Music for Wartime, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - The stories in Rebecca Makkai's new collection , Music for Wartime, span a wide range of topics and eras. One of my favorites in the collection is The November Story, which follows a producer on a reality show as she tries to find balance between the sketchy ethics of her job and her crumbing home life. Another favorite was The Miracle Years of Little Fork, in which a dustbowl era town is left with a dead elephant and a pregnant girl after a circus breezes through their town. Everything We Know About The Bomber is a commentary on how our society processes news stories in this time of rapid information and speculation.
The collection ends with my favorite story, The Museum of the Dearly Departed, where a gas leak has killed all of the inhabitants of an apartment building, except for an elderly couple, who had been on vacation and also happen to be holocaust survivors. The irony is not lost on them. The narrator of the story has been contacted because her fiancé was found in one of the apartments. The narrator learns that the apartment belonged to her fiancé's wife, whom she had thought he had divorced. As she goes through the apartment, she begins to unravel the lies of his life, learning about this other woman through the possessions left in the apartment.
LIKE- Makkai is a gifted writer. Her stories are emotional rollercoasters, filled with unexpected twists and reveals. I appreciate that there is so much variety among her stories, both thematically and in tone. This collection shows a huge range and there was not a single story that I disliked or found to be lacking.
DISLIKE- I wish it had been longer...that's the complaint that I'm officially lodging.
RECOMMEND- Absolutely! Makkai is a "new-to-me" author discovery and I'm very excited to read her other works. Music for Wartime is a must for short story lovers. It's a beautiful, affecting and thought provoking collection.