Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The Thing About Great White Sharks by Rebecca Adams Wright

Title: The Thing About Great White Sharks
AuthorRebecca Adams Wright
Publisher: Little A
Date of Publication: February 20, 2015
Pages: 182

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing this review copy. To read other blogger reviews, check out the virtual book tour that's currently running!

Since reading The Dunning Man in December, I've been on a short story rampage. Kelly Link, Margaret Atwood, Marina Keegan and Jonathan Lethem have all had collections on my nightstand in the past two months. The opportunity to read this brand new collection was perfectly timed.

Wright's settings vary in ways that remind me of collections by George Saunders or Karen Russell. One moment we are in a run-of-the-mill suburban duplex with a Herman Melville impersonator. Then we're rocketed into a terrifying scientific arena, where specific personalities are required to forego vicious animal attacks. War-torn countries of the past sit beside war-torn, colonized planets in the distant future. The breadth of imagination in this collection is really inspiring.

My favorite piece follows a group of actors that travel from one school gymnasium to the next, reenacting the lives of "Great American Writers." The protagonist, Melville, has fallen in love with a coworker portraying Hawthorne. He works up the courage to invite her to the annual GAW holiday bash. The corresponding progression of their literary relationship, as they see each other out of character for the first time, is funny and sad and incredibly real. 

"I do my best. In the weeks before the Bash, I inject more flair into my performances than ever before, bolstered, in part, by the warmer, knowing smile Hawthorne now directs toward me during our brief passing times. We still don’t chat much before I go onstage, but soon we’ll have an entire drunken night together. I know for a fact that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson made love on top of the wig tubs last year. Who’s to say such a passion won’t seize Hawthorne and me?"