Short stories intrigue me. Will I be absorbed quickly enough and my interest sufficiently engaged? Will I be willing to separate from these brief relationships to move on to the next? With Emma Donoghue’s collection, the answer is yes. She repeatedly delivers engaging stories and quirky characters.
Donoghue is a highly talented author and I was impressed with how readily she hooked me. Her stories are about transitions: departures, being in transit, arrivals, and aftermaths. All are occasions when people are vulnerable. Many of the characters were not ones I would typically seek out: “gold miner, counterfeiter, slave, dishwasher, prostitute, attorney, sculptor, mercenary, elephant, corpse,” as the book jacket highlights. Donoghue’s fertile imagination creates these characters by building on brief newspaper clippings that inspired these tales. The clippings were written between 1639 and 1967, with most from the 1800s, and include settings in London, Texas, Louisiana, the Yukon, and Newmarket, Ontario. I would encourage readers to avoid checking the newspaper reports that follow each story until after they read the tale itself. Personally, I like to remain in discovery mode during a story, so I preferred the additional enlightenment at their conclusion.
These helicopter vignettes enjoyably pass the time and prompt me to be watchful for Ms. Donoghue’s next publication.
- Jennifer Mackie