Tuesday Nights and Wednesday Mornings: A Novella and Stories (Paperback) Review

Tuesday Nights and Wednesday Mornings: A Novella and StoriesSICK NOTES, the novella, in this collection is just plain terrific. Writer has a knack for witty dialogue and descriptive passages that make the city she lives in come alive. Even though there is humor throughout, not in your face type of humor, but the kind Ipreffer: understated and honest, because the situations the characters find themselves in (not in and of themselves blatantly funny), are genuine and have happened, at one time or another, to so many of us.

Havng said that, there is no denying that a tone of quiet melancholy runs through SICK NOTES that reminds us of Sylvia Plath's great masterpiece, THE BELL JAR.
No, noone attempts suicide here, nothing like that.The main character, Esther, is drifting, in and out of relationships. Fairly unhappy, not certain what it is she is looking for--or is even confident that it wouldmake her happy if she found it.
I don't think you have to be in your 20s, the protagonist's age, to be able to relate to this.

The rest of the volume consists of short stories that didn't work for me. I don't blame the author, either.

Short stories are simply a bi*ch to pull off. Not many can do it. Some writers out there think that all they have to do is spring a death on you at the end; that's it, they've got a great one, a real winner. Or else, somehow they're convinced that all they have to do is ambush the reader with a punch line, out of the blue. Wham. What a curve ball, what an ending.

Well, they are deluding themselves. Andam not saying that Gwendoline Riley is guilty of this, because she isn't. In fact, she is way too smart to resort to any of these cheap tricks that only a lesser talent would opt for.
Anyway, that's not how it's done--in my humble opinion. Writing an amzing short story is, akin, to scaling Mt. Everest--in lit terms. The toughest literary task to pull off. Tougher than the novel, tougher than the poem, tougher than the screenplay or writing for the stage.

Charles Bukowski was one of the very few who knew how to shake you up with a dynamic short story; he had a way of grabbing you by the nutsa*k and throwing your sorry a** against the wall. His stories made you laugh your bu*t off, or shook you down to your boots--at times did both--and then some.
Now, that's what a short story should do to you. Buk was the champ at it. Kept you reading, wanting more.

Last bit: Loved Gwen's SICK NOTES. Will have to read some of the other novels by her to see where this considerable gift of hers takes her.

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Product Description:
Plucked from the rainy streets of Manchester, award-winning author Gwendoline Riley's novella and stories explore the diminishing prospects of true love, the daunting face of God, and the aftereffects of too much time at the bar with a devotion she likens to "lying on a rest room floor saying the Jesus prayer." In the titular novella, the centerpiece of the collection, we meet Esther, an emotionally capricious twenty-something, part-time struggling writer, and skeptical romantic. Esther loses herself on the streets of Manchester, her adopted home, and explores it with ritual fervor. Although her best friend Donna provides a steady source of emotional succor, Esther adopts a loner's guise in the face of a broken home and a series of less-than-storybook romances. However, when a young American musician enters her life she comes face-to-face with the intimacy she so desperately seeks. Riley has created a cast of characters that embody both an enigmatic reticence, and a graceful emotionalism. Tuesday Nights and Wednesday Mornings confirms Riley as one of the most talented new voices in fiction today.

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