Romance and Other Stories
Engaging short stories are the better of two worlds. They are gold-foiled invitations that greet their readers and show them a fine time, then kindly show them the door where they can move on. They don’t rob so much time, allowing the reader the courtesy of making more plans, and the want of just a little more at the close. They leave you wondering about the characters, lingering on the details and wishing that you could stay overnight in a guest room and see what continues after the click of the light goes off, the last page shows up.
Samantha Prust’s collection, Romance and Other Stories, is a fine time, indeed. Her stories’ rhythms and seemingly ordinary lives of her characters are relatable and intriguing. She opens with a coming-of-age spun story titled Recipes where a budding girl is going through the inevitable changes of adolescence over the spread of a summer. She wrestles with the purchase of her new bra and the realization that just knowing what lies under the sheer of her T-shirt has changed her. And with the beauty of a short story, we see this significance in an afternoon. From Recipes to Angles, two “beautiful, but broke” waitresses wager the ho-hum life they are living by selling more than the day’s specials. There is a slight conflict between the two and a deeper, internal struggle with one that lends a multifaceted meaning to the superficial.
Each story carries its own weight, true to short story development, cuts to the chase and leaves the reader to ponder. I did want to see a further dive into struggle. External conflict is not as prevalent as internal, which, if explored deeper, could lend to a tighter tale. All in all, Prust creates prevailing, multidimensional characters that make for an afternoon of instant immersion.
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