This almost never happens here on EDIWTB, where I am not particularly organized and rarely plan ahead, but I actually finished a book the night before it came out! Shocking! The book is So Much A Part Of You, by Polly Dugan, and it went on sale today.
So Much A Part Of You is a collection of loosely interconnected stories that span from the Depression to the present. Dugan’s stories focus on families and relationships, and particularly how the relationships we develop in our formative years continue to play a big role in our lives as we age. I am not always a big fan of short stories, because I sometimes find them unsatisfying, but I really liked these stories. The threads of connection between the stories (in the form of overlapping characters and one that recurred through most of the book) helped make this collection more cohesive than others that I’ve read.
I like Dugan’s writing style, which is spare and unemotional. The book, however, is full of emotion. Her characters experience love, loss, grief and anxiety, and she conveys those emotions beautifully through their actions and dialogue. I especially liked the college and post-college stories, which accurately captured those confusing years of loneliness and feeling untethered. Some of the parents in So Much A Part Of You are pretty awful, and the characters make mistakes and are often full of regret. No one here is perfect, and there is no neat bow at the end of the book. But isn’t that how life is? I nodded in recognition throughout this book, marveling at Dugan’s ability to capture intense and familiar emotions in such fleeting vignettes.
Dugan has a novel coming out in 2015, which I can’t wait for. I think that she will really take off in the longer format. Until then, tide yourself over with this collection.
Depressing-O-Meter: 7 out of 10, thanks to deaths, abortion, and euthanizations at an animal shelter.