Kevin Brennan, author of Parts Unknown (William Morrow) has rung in the new year in Red Square, performed as a busker in the London Underground, wandered the California desert, and auditioned unsuccessfully for a chance at stardom on reality television. He lives in Petaluma, California, and will be publishing his second novel, Yesterday Road, in the fall of 2013.
on Dec. 06, 2013 :
I would have to call this satire. These are funny stories. I started off thinking I was going to read some heartwarming tales of how parents try to cope with their darling children, but each of these tales goes terribly wrong somehow. The humor isn’t so much in the stories, which take on some fairly serious issues like child neglect and abuse, but in their offbeat perspective on things we normally take for granted in society. “Car Trip” reveals a collision of single-mindedness about bathroom breaks. “Baby Teeth” is about child neglect, misplaced values and then rationalizing the results. “Taking Off” is about climbing mountains and establishing relationships. “Overexposure” deals with things we all try to keep invisible. “Daycare” is about saving money on child care. This is a quick read—highly recommended.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on Sep. 02, 2013 :
The five “tiny tales” in this collection of short shorts are like slices of life, glimpses into the lives of some pretty selfish people. In “Car Trip,” you have the father who refuses to pull over to the side of the road so his children can relieve themselves, a story told entirely in dialogue. I felt like I was in the car with these people, the parents yelling at each other, the children crying. In contrast, Brennan also presents us with “Overexposure,” a story about a dad who is a nudist and who wants his children to have the freedom to go to school in the nude.
Brennan has a gift for characterization. One line that will always stay with me: “The wife is as white and particulate at the top of the stairs as a pillar of salt.” He could have said she’s as white as a pillar of salt, but he added the word “particulate” so there’s an added dimension to the description of the wife. Something that is uniquely her. Brennan incorporates details that make the characters stand out that much more from each other. In “Day Care,” a mom works for the DMV and purposely takes bad pictures of drivers. She may have a boring job, but that bit of info tells you what kind of person she really is.
What fascinated me about these stories was how oblivious the parents seemed to be, how unaware they were of the impact they were having on their children. Brennan captures the dark side of family life but in a way that is entertaining and thought-provoking. He packs a lot of story into each of these five tales, each one as satisfying as a novel. I highly recommend this book, and I am looking forward to reading more by Kevin Brennan.
(reviewed the day of purchase)