Sunday, January 27, 2013

Free Library of Philadelphia: Book To Reserve When Available

The Law of Strings by Steven Gillis

Physics, gravity, string theory, attraction, and repulsion are all at play throughout The Law of Strings, a collection of short stories by Steven Gillis. The book’s theme and tone are reminiscent of early Thomas Pynchon — bizarrely clever tales that are as much about human relationships as they are about the frontiers of speculative science. Hints of Samuel Becket and contemporary author Max Barry are also present, as in a short story titled “What We Wonder When Not Sure,” which finds a pair of businessmen working for a company whose purpose is largely unknown to all it employs, but which promises to reveal itself eventually.

Other stories find characters struggling to make the best of situations that range from the improbable to the impossible, usually with comic effect, and never with ease: A couple frees the denizens of an overcrowded dog shelter only to realize that they haven’t thought the situation through as thoroughly as they might have. A man with the power to levitate meets a woman whose density renders her immobile. A bookstore owner discovers a mysterious door at the top of a flight of stairs while trying in vain to convince his girlfriend that they should take their relationship to the next level.

What emerges as the stories pile one upon the next is the intimation that life can be flawed, maddening, and nearly inexplicable but ultimately and unquestionably worth living.

-- Small Press Review by Marc Schuster

Current Reading Pile

(*) The Best American Short Stories - 2006
Edited by Ann Patchett
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company

(*) The Dude And The Zen Master
by Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman
Published by Blue Rider Group
The Penguin Group

(*) A Hologram For The King
by Dave Eggers
Published by McSweeney's Books

(*) In The Stacks - Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians
Edited by Michael Cart
Published by Overlook Duckworth, Peter Mayer Inc.

(*) The Lottery and Other Stories
by Shirley Jackson
Published by Noonday Press
1991 (1996)

(*) The Mayor of MacDougal Street - A Memoir
by Dave Van Ronk with Elijah Wald
Published by Da Capo Press (Perseus Books Group)

(*) Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Edited by Alan Licht
Published by Faber and Faber Limited

(*) Paying For It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being A John
by Chester Brown
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

(*) What The Dog Saw And Other Adventures
by Malcolm Gladwell
Published by Little, Brown and Company

(*) The Tinkers - Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors
by Alec Foege
Published by Perseus Books Group

(*) Truth In Advertising - A Novel
by John Kenney
Published by Simon & Schuster