Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Short Stories That Every Neurotic Can Enjoy: "Someday This Will Be Funny"

Red Lemonade scores a New York Times book review with author Lynne Tillman’s book of short stories, Someday This Will Be Funny.  The review praises Tillman as “A terrific prose stylist whose work should have wide appeal.”  The short stories are an engaging read and are up Red Lemonade’s site for those intrigued by her characters and their neuroses.  For instance the story “That’s How Wrong My Love Is” painstakingly details a narrator who forges an obsession with a couple of mourning doves nesting in the empty planter of an adjacent apartment. Watching the doves becomes a ritual, and at some point, the narrator even considers buying a telescope to better observe the birds, only to “remember Rear Window,” concluding that to use a telescope in New York City is “dangerous or at least provocative.” The speaker seems barely aware of his (or her) bizarre behavior, but is quick to judge the hoarding habits of a downstairs neighbor. Her public life as a “bubbly young woman who zips happily around the neighborhood” is so different from her private life as a hoarder that the narrator goes as far as to try and diagnose her as “possibly a schizophrenic.”

In the case of the mourning dove fanatic and the characters of other stories from Someday This Will Be Funny, the characters lack the self-knowledge to obtain their true desires. The New York Times book review puts it perfectly, “Inevitably, painfully, what Tillman’s characters ask for and pursue has little to do with what they actually want.”

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