In these unforgettable stories, the acclaimed author of Imagine Me Gone explores lives that appear shuttered by loss and discovers entire worlds hidden inside them. The impact is at once harrowing and thrilling.
An elderly inventor, burning with manic creativity, tries to reconcile with his estranged gay son. A bereaved boy draws a thuggish classmate into a relationship of escalating guilt and violence. A genteel middle-aged woman, a long-time resident of a psychiatric hospital, becomes the confidante of a lovelorn teenaged volunteer. Told with Chekhovian restraint and compassion, and conveying both the sorrow of life and the courage with which people rise to meet it, You Are Not a Stranger Here is a triumph of storytelling.
In this affecting debut collection, Yale Law School student Haslett explores the complex phenomena of depression and mental illness, drawing a powerful connection between those who suffer and those who attempt to alleviate that suffering. In "The Good Doctor," Frank, a young M.D., goes out of his way to discover the origin of his patient's illness, only to learn of both her untreatable pain and his own fears and regrets: "The fact was he still felt like a sponge, absorbing the pain of the people he listened to." In "The Beginnings of Grief," suffering becomes a way of healing when a teenager coming to terms with both his homosexuality and his parents' sudden deaths seeks connection wherever he can find it, even in the pain inflicted by a classmate's violence. Often, Haslett convincingly interweaves the perspectives and lives of seemingly disparate individuals. In "The Volunteer," a teenager's awkward incomprehension in the face of his first sexual encounter bizarrely coincides with the breakdown of a schizophrenic woman he visits after school. Not all of the stories are charged with this kind of emotional complexity, however, and some tend toward the sentimental, as does "The Storyteller," in which the clinically depressed Paul, who feels himself to be nothing but a burden to his wife, Ellen, rediscovers his vitality in a chance encounter with an elderly woman and her dying son. Though the thematic similarity of many of the stories dulls their startling initial impact, this is a strikingly assured first effort.
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Amazing writer, he explores pain and loss, sexuality and depression. His stories are profound and though they are not happy, they explore life experiences some people can relate to. Amazing writer.
Cuts you deep!
Sometimes, while reading this book, I had to laugh, or else I would have to go as far down and deep into the emotions and happenings in this mini-novels. When people talk about painting, and how a few strokes can create or suggest forms, landscapes, I haven't really seen that in art as much as I thought I would. But, it is realized here in these stories. I think I'm not a good enough writer to even critique these stories.
Some people won't watch certain intense movies, despite their amazingness, like Misery or Silence of the Lambs. I think, due to some of the subject matter of these stories, others might have the same reaction. But, these stories, I would hand out to passersby on the street, if I had enough copies. I would beg them to read them, even if they found some of the themes repulsive. These stories deserved every accolade put upon them. Can't wait to read something else from this gentleman.