Thursday, August 18, 2011
Greenwillow Books, 2009
When I was looking through the Chris Crutcher books that my library has, I was immediately hooked by seeing the name "Sarah Byrnes." Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes was a great read for me and if she appeared again, then I wanted to read this. It turns out that this is a collection of short stories, bringing together several characters from earlier books to further explore.
I liked the premise because of the two Crutcher books I've read, the main characters have experienced a lot of anger, both at their own situation in life and at the injustices perpetrated in the world. This book is a further examination of those themes that continue to roil American society, largely race, sexual orientation, inadequacies in the foster care system, and just downright cruelty. At times, I felt like I was being preached at although since I largely agree with Crutcher, I didn't mind. This was most present in the third story "Meet Me at the Gates, Marcus James." I felt that the other two stories integrated those themes better.
Besides that, this is a collection of three short stories which means that you just don't get enough time to build a connection to the character. Now I remembered Sarah Byrnes but the other characters weren't familiar with me. I liked them (Crutcher creates vivid personalities that reach out and grab you) but I wanted more like I receive in a novel.
Additionally the framing device is that these six characters are in group counseling for various reasons and each section is preceded by a brief description of the character as observed by the head counselor. I enjoyed the bit of him we saw but again, I wanted more!
Overall: Another enjoyable read from Crutcher but I think I prefer a full-length novel to short stories.