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Elephant by Jim Breslin

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Offline James Everington
22 Aug 2011, 06:17 PM | Post: #1

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Elephant by Jim Breslin

This is a really strong collection of short stories - most of them deal with the everyday life and experiences of 'normal' people, and work towards some quiet epiphany. The influence of Raymond Carver seemed strong, although most of Breslin's characters seem slightly more middle-class and contented. But despite this there are fault-lines in their lives, and these stories expose them with great skill. The writing style is strong and varied, moving between realistic dialogue and poetic imagery easily. It's always a sign of a good writer when you find yourself rereading individual lines of proses because they're so good, and I did that frequently here.

For me, the only slight flaw in the collection as a whole is that maybe the stories are too similar in theme and tone - some of the best stories, like 'Elephant' itself are those where Breslin seemed to expand his technique slightly, adding an nice edge of surrealism to the realism. But this is a small gripe, and readers who like their collections of short stories to have a strong feeling of belonging together would probably disagree with me. And there is an agreeable sense here of reoccurring themes and a distinct vision across all of these tales.

Very much recommended. Short stories as they should be done.
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