Book Review: Confessions of a Falling Woman and other short stories

confessionsConfessions of a Falling Woman and other short stories
by Debra Dean
224 pages
Published 2008
Contemporary fiction

I picked up this book because the title intrigued me. I was expecting a book of short stories on a theme, being Falling Women, and instead I got a book of short stories by an author, one of them being from a divorced, adulterous ex-wife. For all that it wasn’t what I was expecting, and was not my usual fare, I was impressed by the quality of the writing and the emotions behind the stories. Most of the stories are tiny vignettes – glimpses into other people’s lives. The last story is a much longer story about a washed-up actor. The book is short, but still manages to cram in nine stories in 135 pages, with the tenth consuming 90 pages on its own.

The book begins with “What the Left Hand Is Saying,” about the people living in an apartment building coming together to form a community. “The Queen Mother” descibes a Southern Matriarch getting an intervention for her alcoholism. “The Afterlife of Lyle Stone” is a bizarre little story that I’m still not entirely sure what to make of. “A Brief History of Us” reads like a woman talking to her shrink about her family’s history. “Another Little Piece,” “Romance Manual,” “The Best Man,” “The Bodhisattva,” and “Confessions of a Falling Woman” all deal with varying aspects of love and romance. The crowning story of the collection is “Dan in the Gray Flannel Rat Suit” about a washed-up actor realizing he’s washed-up.

This was a decent collection. It’s not my normal cup of tea, though her novel looks vaguely interesting (The Madonnas of Leningrad). I’ll probably only pick up Madonnas if I happen to see it on the library shelf when picking up other things. If you’re into contemporary fiction, though, this might be worth a shot.

From the back of Confessions of a Falling Woman and other stories:

A surprised Southern matriarch is confronted by her family at an intervention… A life-altering break-in triggers insomniac introspection in a desperate actor… Streetwise New York City neighbors let down their guard for a naive puppeteer and must suffer the consequences…

In this stunning collection of short stories – five of which are being published for the very first time – bestselling, award-winning author Debra Dean displays the depth and magnitude of her extraordinary literary talent. Replete with the seamless storytelling and captivating lyrical voice that made her debut novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad, a national bestseller, Dean’s Confessions of a Falling Woman is a haunting, satisfying, and unforgettable reading experience.

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