Thursday, December 16, 2021

Review of Whatever Feels Like Home by Susan Rukeyser


I love the poetry Susan Rukeyser includes in her fascinating flash fiction. For example, this line about a goldfish: “His translucent fins fanned like the scarves of an old burlesque dancer still going through the motions.”

These ten stories take us deep into the lives of the characters, and not the normal fiction characters of politics and fame. Susan instead focuses on our friends and neighbors, and manages to reach in and expose my own foibles to myself. My gut tells me that you too will find yourself in at least one of these stories, and members of your family in other stories, and for sure your next-door neighbor. And, those characters whose stories are unique and new to you will become life-long friends due to Susan’s love of her characters. I know Hank now has a soft spot in my heart, and I wish him a long life with good friends.

Susan’s descriptions of events are precise and vivid: “And wasn’t this what you did, when you lost a guy who probably wasn’t your forever guy but what if he WAS? You go crazy. You rage. You weep. You break into his trailer and sit on his couch with a knife across your lap, so he will shit himself when he opens the door after a long shift, sore and beat, and all he wants in life is a shower and to be left alone.” Another story paints a colorful picture of living together full-time, “Resentment, old as this marriage, sticks to doorknobs and window sills. It gums up the corners.” 

I marvel at how Susan seemingly effortlessly embeds seventeen syllable micropoems into her stories. I just stare in wonder at and savor the skill, and admire the work that goes into this precision. From two different stories: “Mrs. Anderson stretched as birds chittered, a brook sputtered over stones.” And “You were the girl who could never leave. How did they know you slept through it?” With this careful, pristine writing throughout, I highly recommend this book for your reading pleasure. The stories I have seen previously live just as strong with re-reading, and I know this will be a small book I’ll return to with pleasure.


To order by snail mail, send a $5 check (add $1 for postage in Canada; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9.

Susan will have signed copies to sell at The Folk School during the Local Authors Book Release Party on January 9, 2022:







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