April 21, 2009

Review: Nothing Right

Nothing Right
by Antonya Nelson

I made a mistake. I regret it. I read a blog review of this short story collect before I read the book for myself. When the review I read was negative I set the book aside for a long while. But I have learned my lesson now.

The review I read essentially said there was nothing right about Nothing Right. I disagree. What I found within the pages of this collection were characters that had given up on the ideal. They had thrown out the idea of being perfect a long time ago. They were now working on just living and being themselves. Some of them needed a hard thump on the back of the head. Some just needed the right kind of nurturing. Some got it. Some didn't.

The title fits well. The stories, and the people, are painful to watch. They are painful to experience. But they are authentic. Life is full of the ways we sting each other while we try to live our own way. We all step on each other's toes. We all make life more complicated than it has to be. But we go through it all because there is a need in all of us to be with each other. In real life there is often nothing right about the way we interact with each other. But occasionally something good comes out of it.

The stories in this collection deal with all the messy situations in life, like teen rebellion and pregnancy, selfishness, contempt, displacement, adultery. My favorite stories were the title story, Nothing Right, Shauntrelle, and We and They. Two of them (Nothing Right and We and They) end with the characters transcending their experiences. (See, even I like a happy ending.)

If you like characters, if you like to observe them in whatever situation they are in, then you will find something in this collection. But if you are reading to escape the stresses of life then you'd better move along. These stories are full of real life.

Buy this book at Amazon.


C. B. James said...

Sounds like something I would enjoy. I've been looking for a new short story collection.

bermudaonion said...

I think I read the review you're referring to. Now I don't know what to think. I guess I'll have to read it myself.

Petunia said...

CB- Delicate Edible Birds is still my favorite short story collection but this one kept me interested in the people.

BermudaOnion- I'm sure you know all the reviews out there. :) Let me know if you do get to reading it.

Bookfool said...

I loved this review! Haven't seen the review you referred to, but you made the book sound very appealing. I've made the mistake of judging based on a review and setting a book aside. I guess the only way to truly evaluate is to sit down and read.