The Marble King and Other Stories
What do a small-town Baptist preacher, a quiet neighborhood voyeur, a meter maid who generates a huge lawsuit, a retired female executive who is also an expert chess player, a twelve-year-old girl about to become an aunt, a minister’s wife with a hidden desire, and a recently separated man who hears voices all have in common? Each of these, and several more odd and diverse characters, have their stories told in this enticing, beautifully-written collection of a dozen well-crafted short stories.
The art of writing the short story is a difficult one, and many collections are uneven with a few good stories and some, well, not so good stories. This collection is extremely even, and every one of the stories is of a very high quality. The characters are well-rounded, completely believable, and each and every one is someone who could live next door to the reader. The reader will relate to them in a variety of ways—sometimes with affection, sometimes with derision, sometimes with abhorrence—but each will also affect the reader, and many in very profound ways.
There is a reality to the settings and characters reminiscent of John Cheever’s short stories, with some of the edginess and darkness found in Flannery O’Connor’s writings. It is clear that author David Bellin has developed his craft to the highest levels. Each story is like a neatly-wrapped, special gift that this reviewer felt had been written and chosen just for her. A bonus was to discover a charming character reprised in a later story. This collection might remind the reader of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates—”you never know what you are going to get,” but one thing you can be sure of, it will be something perfectly delicious.
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