Quill and Quire

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Pleased to Meet You

by Caroline Adderson

There are a large number of people who just don’t like short stories, who find tales of a dozen pages or so, one after the other, too distracting. They want to sink their teeth into something larger, they claim. Short fiction is like eggplant – you either love it or hate it.

Though she is the author of two widely acclaimed novels, Caroline Adderson was made for the short story. Adderson has the ability to write about ordinary people in an accessible manner. It is this and her ability to take the reader on an amazing journey in just a few pages that make her one of the best writers to come out of this country.

Adderson’s stories are filled with flawed souls that are up against conflict – either within their family or their circle of friends. She doesn’t always present them in a sympathetic manner, but whether or not you like a particular character, the stories cozy up to you, and you have no choice but to go on to the next.

“Petit Mal” is a funny and warm story about a mother worrying that her son has become involved in a cult. The theme of family continues with “Mr. Justice,” about a father and son at odds with one another and trying to come together during a crisis. “Knives” is a gripping tale of housemates tiring of one another’s idiosyncrasies. With its strongly written characters and dialogue, the story would make a fantastic little movie. This kind of edge-of-your-seat storytelling is rare in literary fiction.

The whole collection is not perfect. A few stories are merely fine, but others are tightly woven treasures.