Friday, February 26, 2010

February Fiction V: Apparition and Late Fictions by Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch is better known in literary circles as the poet-undertaker. Mr. Lynch has written several collections of poetry and books of essays about his life's work--the town undertaker, in small town Michigan.

I have always been drawn to poets who turn their attention to prose. The writing always seems perfect, as if poets know better than the rest of us how to place words so they sing and make sense. Poets have an excellent sense of rhyme and meter in all they attempt to portray on paper. Add this to his interesting life's work, and it was a collection I had to read. Published in January 2010, I was the first one to check it out of the local library.

Apparition consisted of 4 short stories and a novella. I couldn't help but shake the feeling that while well written, they were all fairly similar. They were from the point of view of middle-aged white men, sort of sad and lonely and disappointed by life. The one exception would be the story narrated by a middle-aged white women sort of sad and lonely and dissatisfied with life.

They all have stories of death and tragedy woven in and this strange sort of mouth agape puzzlement about how they ended up where they did. Life held so much promise and now look.

The first story, Catch and Release, about a son setting his father's ashes down the river was the most beautiful: an elegy for a beautiful relationship between father and son. The novella, (which in general I find hard to read) Apparition, was also very good. It had elements, as they all did, of being a sweeping story. The tales of whole lives summed up in patient metaphors. This was no minimalist fiction.

I would recommend this if you like short sad epic stories and are curious about undertakers who write. Mr. Lynch knows how to write about death in all it's iterations.

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