Monday, September 15, 2014
Review: A Brief Moment of Weightlessness
Stories by Victoria Fish
A Brief Moment of Weightlessness is a slender collection, eleven stories in all, coming in at just over 130 pages. The stories are about children in families that are tearing apart a little or a lot at the seams, housewives feeling unmoored in their own lives, an American girl in India, wrapped in grief for the loss of her mother. Two stories, the strongest in the group (for this reader, at least) feature a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
Overall I liked the stories, although I thought some stories were more assured and well-crafted than others. Fish's writing is quiet, and she is at her best when she stays with her characters, charting their internal lives. My favorite stories in the collection, "Green Line" and The Last and Kindest Thing," both focus on Adam, a returned veteran whose relationships have shattered under the strain of his return from war. I loved the fact that Fish returned to Adam,years later in his life, and showed how he had made a new life for himself--a life with pockets of loss, but a life. The best, most believable writing was in these two linked stories, especially in "The Last and Kindest Thing," about the relationship between Adam and his dog, Banjo.
Animals are important in this collection, and another strong story, "What is the Color Blue?," tells of a housewife in rural Vermont, whose new neighbor is more glamorous and more troubled than anyone else she encounters in her "sweet but boring" life. Claire, a stay-at-home mom who is starting a home baking company, is tempted and dazzled by her new neighbor, Isabel, an accomplished rider who seems to have the perfect everything: figure, wardrobe, husband, life. But as Claire gets pulled into Isabel's sphere, she discovers that her "sweet but boring" personality has its strengths.
A Brief Moment of Weightlessness is a promising first collection. I liked these quiet stories, and would certainly look forward to more work from Fish. I don't know whether she is done with the characters here or not, but I'd want to read more stories about Adam, her Afghanistan veteran character. A Brief Moment of Weightlessness captures those reflective moments contained in every life. Recommended for those who enjoy short stories and moments of epiphany.