on May 1, 2015 :
Like Elizabeth’s Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, D.A. MacQuin’s novel, Polite Conversation about the Weather, is grown from a set of short stories about the interlocking lives of Midwestern characters. The parts are nicely fitted together, offering that enticing delight of discovery as remembered characters reappear, together with a sense of hopes fulfilled or dashed as their stories are seen through different eyes.
MacQuin’s short stories are built on the backs of science-fiction readers, pot smokers, and angry young men and women looking back on, or forward to, uncertain futures. The world around them is changing. The death penalty—a mournful bracket around the whole collection—comes and goes, but wounded lives go on and guilt lies often unseen. Dune’s Atreides wanted to save the world, but author D.A. MacQuin saves small lives individually by giving them depth and breath.
From final meal to sirens tempting a missionary by the pool, from dark internal dialog to convincing and natural flashes of conversation, and from past to present, these tales present a selection of ordinary people with lives both successful and dull, hopes lost and found, and dreams distorted. Sharp stings in the tales twist perception and preconception, and unedited tense shifts offer a rapid-fire approach to deep realities and pains. Too early? Too late? Too fast? Too slow? Or just life? These tales are just life, frequently seen in injustice or justice delayed, wounded and picking up the pieces, ever going on. But together they form a novel that’s more than the sum of its parts, and a fascinating mirror on a generation.
Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.
(reviewed 45 days after purchase)