Many thanks to the author for gifting me this review copy!
Even In Death is a collection of 10 short stories, eminently readable. Her prose is achingly beautiful, as evidenced in this line from “A Fine Winter Day”: “Mark began to pluck the feathers off my innocence six years ago, when I was thirteen and he was twenty-one”.
Or this snippet from “What’s Really There”: “We live in the country, 300 miles from the closest beach, and yet their sadness crashes precisely like waves against the shore. My husband David and I felt their presence early on, within a few weeks of buying their home. At first it was tolerable, although a bit cramped: two people and three ghosts sharing 1000 square feet. But we got used to them; footsteps in the attic, windows creaking open in the dead of night, occasional sighs and sniffles, but that was before they started touching us.”
There is a bit of the surreal, of anger and love, of things that are just-not-quite-right in each of these little gems. It’s hard to tell a good short story without making the reader feel like they have missed something, or fumbling the ending and leaving the reader unsatisfied. Not here. There is the right amout of detail, of character exposition, with nuances of language and color and emotion that grab you right away. Each story has its quirk, to make you think and to make you feel.
Which story didn’t I like? “What Caught My Senses”, a tale about a writerly couple in search of money, so they concoct a scheme to invite a group of authors to their villa under the guise of offering a writing retreat. Towards the end, there is a lot of activity and people just got jumbled up in my mind as I tried to keep track of who was doing what to whom. It was written as well as any of the other stories, I just didn’t enjoy the plot and how it unfolded. The fact that I didn’t like Katie and Mick, the unscrupulous writers, didn’t help either.
My favorite was “The Collector”, about a girl whose mother is a hoarder. Sammie describes her mom’s stuff as ‘collectibles’ to her first grade friends, until the kids discover for themselves that it’s just all garbage. Every time Sammie or her grandmother try to clean, Mom always distracts them with food or a trip into town. What happens to Sammie at the end is both sad and uplifting at the same time, while the essence of a hoarder mentality is captured perfectly.
I hope that Ms Gillespie has another book of stories in her. Want your own copy? You should! Pick it up here.