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review 2020-02-27 20:39
Can You Feel this?
Can You Feel This? - Julie Orringer

I don't have much to say, I didn't like this short story. We focus on a woman about to have a c-section because of a condition she has. We have her thinking back on her mother and her childhood while obsessing over the imminent birth. I don't know, the whole thing just didn't work for me. I also think a few times the author wrote this as if some bad fate was about to befall all and then the ending leaves things on a hopeful note. Or maybe not hopeful, just not precarious anymore.


"Can You Feel This?" follows a woman (she stays unnamed I think through this whole thing) who suffers from placenta previa. I actually know about this a little bit cause my work wife had this and was on bed rest during the last two months of her pregnancy. So maybe I am just comparing how she handled things and this unnamed character and finding the fictional character lacking.


I also don't know if the book had been written in the first person if I would have felt more connected to the story. I wonder if Orringer wrote this in second person to put a distance between the main character and reader since the main character feels distant from her husband and child. And I think I just got fed up with it since the whole story is mostly going because of what happened to her mother when she was young this is why she is the way she is now. Which is only part of the story/things. You can choose to be different. And I think the ending was trying to telegraph that (badly). 


I was initially going to read all of the short stories but decided not to. This one didn't work for me and I didn't feel like forcing myself to continue to read the rest of the collection. 

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review 2020-02-27 20:32
Everything My Mother Taught Me
Everything My Mother Taught Me - Alice Hoffman

Honestly, Alice Hoffman writes short stories like no one's business. She is the first short story in Amazon's "Inheritance Collection" which looks at five fiction masters reveal that what is past is passed—inside households, across generations, and within the families of our own making. I honestly am not in the mood to read all of the short stories though. I read Hoffman's and loved it and went ehh on the second story and decided to cut my losses at this point. Hoffman's story hits high notes and makes you feel as if you are standing alone with the main character (pre-teen Adeline) in the 1900s in Massachusetts. 


"Everything My Mother Taught Me" follows young Adeline who is grieving her father. Her mother she understands does not love her and did not love her father while he was alive. Because of the times, the two are forced to go off so her mother can find work as a housekeeper to a set of lighthouse keepers off the tip of Cape Ann. Hoffman describes a desolate place that slowly becomes beautiful to Adeline. Adeline has not spoken since her father has died, but she can see what is happening all around her. And once again she realizes that her mother is only showing one side of herself to others. 


I loved this story from beginning to end. Hoffman makes short work of packing punches in her stories. There's a reason why I have read most of her anthology work at this point. She makes you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere along with Adeline watching how her mother is slowly wrecking another person's life. 


I loved the ending and wanted to read more which is all you can ask for as a reader when you get to the end of a very good book, or in this case, short story. 

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