The May edition of Short & Sweet is coming to you earlier than usual. If you’ve followed along, you’ll know I’ve worked my way through a pile of short stories, usually as bedtime reading. This month I read The Means of Escape by Penelope Fitzgerald. Or rather, I read half of it. I have no idea why I had this book on my shelves, seeing as I really disliked Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Offshore. I should have known better.
The Means of Escape is a mercifully short collection of ten stories. I read half of them before throwing in the towel. The title story, where a woman helps an escaped convict in hopes of running off with him, was the best of the bunch. One story, The Prescription, was so indecipherable to me that my notes just say, “???”. The last story I read, The Axe, began with promise. It took the form of a letter written by a manager who had recently made a long-time employee redundant. Clearly he felt the decision was unjust and had sympathy for the employee. But it took a sudden turn into very strange territory, and that’s when I knew I was done with this book.
This book was just too full of “quirky” characters and bizarre situations. These might work better in a long-form novel, but encountering a new set every ten pages or so was just too much for me.
Next month I’ll be reading The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro. Watch for the next installment of Short & Sweet!