Thursday, April 17, 2008

Months and Seasons

Since I’ve started this blog, a lot of authors and publishers have been contacting me about reviewing their books. For the most part, I’ve tried my best to read the books in the order in which they arrive. Last week, however, as I put down Guacamole Dip by Daniel Reveles, I couldn’t take my eyes off the cover of Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks. And although there were a good two or three books ahead of this one in the queue (and despite all of the old bromides about the dangers of judging a book by its cover), I couldn’t resist. Something about the angry black chick on the cover called out to me, almost dared me to read just one story in the book. Which is all I really intended to do—just read one story before moving onto the next book on my list.

Big mistake.

The stories in Months and Seasons are like potato chips: you can’t read just one. Just a few sentences into the first piece, “Dracula Sinks into the Night,” I immediately felt at home in the world Meeks has created—one in which it’s possible to find varying degrees of salvation in a fall from a second-story porch while wearing a Dracula costume or (as in a story titled “The Holes in My Door”) in a stray load of buckshot fired accidentally into one’s own foot. Throughout this collection of short stories, which reads like an odd combination of Raymond Carver and O Henry (heavy on the Carver), Meeks approaches the complexities of human relationships with wit and subtlety. Moreover, his understanding of the fragility of the human species brings depth to his work. Case in point: my favorite story of the bunch, “The Old Topanga Incident,” in which a writer stares down a natural disaster only to wonder how much fight he has left.

Perhaps the most endearing piece in this collection is the opening chapter of the author’s upcoming novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century, which Meeks includes as something he describes as a “bonus track.” Titled “The Hand,” this piece introduces the reader to a teenager named Edward and his distant, recently-widowed father. Convinced that the public school system is failing his son, the father enrolls Edward in a private school where the vagaries of tying a necktie and dealing with his over-privileged classmates only exacerbate his sense of loneliness. Driven by Edward’s desire to connect with his father in even the slightest way, the piece, like all of the stories in this collection, offers a touching exploration of the ties that bind. Indeed, if “The Hand” is any indication of what’s to come, I’m certainly looking forward to The Brightest Moon of the Century.

Months and Seasons will be available in late May.

Update: Available now at!

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