Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book Review: "Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women" by Mary Rechner

Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women Mary Rechner
Date Finished: November 25, 2017
Date Published: October 5, 2010
ISBN: 9780982770405
Genre: Short Stories
Source: Personal Copy
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Short stories, realistic writing, female main characters

A woman sewing a dress for her anniversary night out finds herself presiding over her young daughters as they cut apart their own clothes. A four year old boy going earnestly about the business of being a four year old boy is perplexed as to why his behavior seems to have dramatic effects on his mother. An elementary school volunteer learns about a role-playing card game from a young boy, and then sees the roles play out in her own home.

College friends and couples reunite for a drink, and find that although their campus couplings are in the past, their sexual competitions are still very much present.

Over the course of these nine stories, Mary Rechner brings a frank, humorous, and ultimately illuminating narrative voice to the subjects of sex, marriage, family, and work. Her characters strain against expected behaviors and received opinions about emotional life: a grieving woman considers pursuing her dead lover's twin, a master gardener envies the freedom of her widowed friend, a poet considers which of her pieces will work best when read in a strip club, and a patient in the dentist's chair finds her appointment her best chance to reflect on her otherwise hectic life.

My Thoughts:
Short story collections are hard for me to write about and, as a result, I tend not to review them. There is a temptation to write about every story individually, and I just don't think that's effective.  I feel that, with a collection, you really need to look at it as a whole.  While the stories may stand on their own, I can have a vastly different experience reading a story from a collection instead of in a periodical or somehow "on its own."

I feel that this particular book really needs to discussed in its whole.  Like any successful short story collection, there is a thread that holds all the stories together.  In this case, it is the experiences of women.  I appreciated how this collection was assembled.  The common theme is clear, but all of the stories tackle it from a different viewpoint.  While each story has a similar theme, they all have a different path to that theme.

Along with that, Rechner's voice changes for each story.  This is critical--nothing is worse that reading a short story collection where all the stories sound exactly the same.  I appreciated being able to read this collection as both a whole and as individual stories.

Best of all, I related to these stories.  Yes, I related to some more than others and sometimes the connection I felt was anchored to a mere detail of the story, but the connection was always there.  I realize that this is personal--the next person reading this book may not have the same experience.  Still, I rarely find myself as personally invested in a short story collection as I did with this one.

I would encourage anyone who enjoys short stories to check out this collection.  Even if someone else doesn't experience the connection I did, I doubt that they will be disappointed with it.  Mary Rechnar is definitely an author I will reading more of in the future.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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