Book of the Month | February 2015
Corpus Christi: Stories by Bret Anthony Johnson | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I must admit that I don't think I'm looking forward to a month where choosing my favourite book is a difficult decision. Thankfully February was not one of those months. As I explore short story collections a little further I am beginning to sense that they either work beautifully or they fall a little flat, and Corpus Christi most certainly falls into the former. I can't yet accurately explain what makes a good short story collection so powerful, but whatever it is, this one has it.
Each of the ten stories in this collection takes place in Corpus Christi, a town in Texas often hit by hurricanes, and where relationships between people can be as tumultuous as the stormy winds that so often bluster their way through. After just the first few stories it became clear that Johnston's characters didn't feel like characters at all. In my mind they were real and on the other side of the world from the sofa in my living room where I read about them, they were living their lives in Corpus Christi.
There are now five sticky notes in my copy, each marking a sentence or a feeling that I don't want to forget about. This is the first book I have ever done that with and I have now discovered the joy that comes with looking back through and remembering them all over again. I thought that perhaps they wouldn't quite have the same impact when taken out of context, but that's the wonderful thing about Johnston's stories, their context is life in all its happy, sad, complex, heartbreaking, tender, devastating, beautiful glory. And we all have a shared experience of life.
I smiled. I cried. I sobbed. I felt. I understood.
Thank you Bret, for breaking my heart and patching it all back together again.
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Have you read any short story collections recently?