In the nine stories of Let's Do, various calamities strike ordinary Midwesterners, who cope with a mixture of good intentions and ineptitude. Balancing humor with painful clarity, author Rebecca Meacham pulls readers into the lives of characters who struggle with—and more often against—change. "Rebecca Meacham has one of the freshest voices I've encountered in a long time. Blatantly wise, she creates stories that are deliciously subversive, brave and outrageous, reminiscent of a young Alice Hoffman. As the lives of her characters get derailed, they move with the damaged grace of walking through broken glass on tiptoe. This is a writer whose words speak with emotional resonance about the resilience of the human heart--a beautiful, authentic talent who knows that when you turn life upside down, you get good measures of both trouble and laughter, a lesson the very best writers recognize early."--Jonis Agee, judge
Meacham explores the familiar terrain of love and loss in her debut story collection, but her distinctive voice charges these nine stories with an intriguing combination of sardonic humor and emotional depth. In the sharply funny "Trim and Notions," a newly pregnant teacher tries to find her balance after the baby's father leaves her and she negotiates the process of introducing her new addition to her erratic, flighty sister and straitlaced mother. In the much soberer "Weights and Measures," Meacham frames the harrowing story of a teenage girl's descent into bulimia after her parent's separation as a series of steps in a macabre, ironic how-to guide. Breakups and impending splits are frequent plot elements: in "The Assignment," a photographer's athletic girlfriend asks him to replicate the circumstances of her attack after a near-mugging, and the request brings his penchant for jealousy and stalking to the surface; in "Good Fences," a struggling suburban couple moves to the country and the husband faces unlikely temptation in the form of a destitute but comely neighbor. The balance between dialogue and exposition remains impeccable throughout, and Meacham's well-drawn, quirky characters help add definition to the spare narrative lines. Several of the stories dealing with loss fall into a similar pattern, but this is a strong debut from a writer who has just begun to scratch the surface of her talent. Due to a production error, this review did not appear in a previous issue.