Among the Missing: Thematically Sound (if sad)

                                

Among the Missing is a collection that reminds me why I dislike short stories as a genre. Characters are introduced, developed, and then the story ends. I enjoyed the collection because it holds together thematically very well. The plot sequence of a disappeared body frames a discussion of how we lose track of ourselves over our lifetime, how we lose connections with those we purport to love.

The story “Here’s a Little Something to Remember Me By,” particularly interested me in the way it weaves together questions of memory – how accurately can we remember the past? – with those of identity – how well can/do the people around us know who we are? Can we ever be known by someone else? – and with the terribly certainty that our lives will always be a ruined version of what we once imagined.

The nostalgia for a life led in possibility and hope permeates the collection. While  I didn’t find myself identifying with the protagonists – didn’t find myself (yet) willing to admit the disappearance of my life as I imagine(d) it – I couldn’t help but be affected by the pessimism of the collection, the quiet tragedy of an argument for life as a disappointment; dreams, plans and schemes as inevitably lost. So not a cheery collection, by any stretch of the imagination, but one that consistently and carefully considers what we lose by living.

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Filed under 100 Books of 2011, Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction, Prize Winner, Short Stories

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