Relationships are at the center of each of these stories. They will make you think about your own life, the people that you know, and what each of them might encounter in their day-to-day lives.
Each of these stories is an extremely real slice of life. They are very well-written, and the characters are so genuine that it is almost scary. I can see any of the events in these stories actually taking place.
These story lines and characters get inside your head, and they won’t leave. They tug at your deep inner emotions. Thought provoking and gut-wrenching, they are stories that you will never forget.
My husband, a truck driver, listened to these stories from beginning to end with no break between them. His advice would be not to listen to them when you are tired. He agrees with me that the stories are very well-written and that Mr. Meeks is a very talented writer. But if literary fiction is not what you are used to reading or listening to, there is a chance that these stories will depress you. At the same time, they are impossible to pull yourself away from.
“Academy Award Afternoon and Evening” – A small gathering to watch the Academy Awards causes one man to wonder just how well do we know those we associate with and claim as friends.
“Green River” – Witness to a disintegrating relationship, one man’s viewing of total sadness causes him to think back on his own troubled marriage. All the while, his son is extolling the virtues of chocolate.
No matter what is going on in our own lives, the world and all of its problems are still out there continuing on.
“The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea” – During a fishing trip, a man’s brother-in-law confides to him about his life-threatening issues.
“The Scent” – Where is the bad smell coming from, and why is he the only one who smells it? And this scent follows him wherever he goes.
“Divining” – Health-conscious Ellis, a New Yorker living in Hollywood, is searching for a job. He keeps worrying about electrolytes and cholesterol and sugar. This is the story of a man who is so blinded by what he thinks he wants that he is unable to see that what his true desire is right in front of him. When he does finally realize it, it will it be too late?
“The Rotary” – Sullivan is very close to his grandfather who has always been there to help him, but now he has had a stroke and is dying. The young man imagines his grandfather’s possible past back in 1918 Boston, the time of an influenza epidemic and when America has entered WWI. His grandfather has lived through three generations of politics, college, romance, marriage, and divorce. Will his grandfather be able to help him out this one last time?
“Shooting Funerals” – Vicky is trying to figure out what the right job is for her, and she thinks that a funeral photographer would be perfect. At the funeral of a friend’s grandfather—she was hired to take pictures—things do not go as planned. She has had so much trouble finding a job that works out, but this does lead to success in other parts of her life.
“He’s Home” – Steve, fifty years old and an abuser, comes home to discover a super clean house, but he also discovers all of his wife’s belongings are gone. In a disturbing way, Steve reminds me way too much of my ex-son-in-law.
“Engaging Ben” – Ben and Sarah are engaged. Ben is focused more than he should be on Sarah’s increasing weight and on what he calls her faults. But Ben is not the only one who has changed. How will Sarah react after Ben throws out her chocolate-covered graham crackers?
“Nike Had Nothing to do With It” – A jog in the woods causes unplanned things to happen.
“High Occupancy Vehicle” – This story is about two married couples. Faint but unconfirmed signals of an affair cause the wife of one couple and the husband of the other couple to wonder if their spouses are messing around with each other. But did the one who first spoke of these suspicions have ulterior motives?
“The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating” – A lonely guy looks for a girlfriend in the local grocery store. Does he succeed in finding her?
“Dear Ma” – Ma is in a wheelchair. She “spaces out”, has “attacks,” and is being cared for by her children. She lives in the past in her head and only has sporadic moments of realization of what time it really is. This story examines the relationship between Ma and her husband, and Ma and her children.
I was sent a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. The stories were read by Christopher Meeks. He did a good job reading them, and it was nice to listen to the stories read by the one who had written them. There were a few times I had to verify with him that I understood just what word was being said, but I am a picky reader. I feel that to get the full enjoyment of a story, one must understand every word as well as its meaning. That is why there is a “New Words Learned” section included with most of my reviews.
If you would like your own copy of this book to read or listen to, I have provided an Amazon link below.
Amazon Link: The MIddle-Aged Man and the Sea
Blood Drama – a Review
A Death in Vegas – a Review
Christopher Meeks Interview – Inspiration, Self-Publishing, and Opportunities
Writing Literary Fiction – Guest Post by Christopher Meeks
One day you’re young, laughing, eating Cheetos, the next you’re locked in a car with your wife and eleven-year-old son, no one talking to each other, the acidity of anger drip, drip, dripping at your insides if not your wife’s.
The odor was sharp, worse than a dead fish slithering with maggots.
Change sometimes feels like death, but then you are reborn.
Minutes are like locusts, chewing through my field of time.
Children remind you of what’s good, what it was like before we knew better.
New Words Learned:
ankh – a tau cross with a loop at the top, used as a symbol of generation or enduring life
concourse – a driveway or promenade
homunculus – his little man way
loquaciousness – talkativeness
rictus – a fixed or unnatural grin or grimace, as in horror or death
rotary – roundabout; traffic circle
sibilant – hissing
valence – the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity
Zamboni – a brand of machine that smooths the surface of the ice on a rink
About the Author:
Christopher Meeks was born in Minnesota, earned degrees from the University of Denver and USC, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1977. He’s taught English at Santa Monica College, and creative writing at CalArts, UCLA Extension, Art Center College of Design, and USC. His fiction has appeared often in Rosebud magazine as well as other literary journals, and his books have won several awards. His short works have been collected into two volumes, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons, the latter which appeared on the long list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He’s had three plays produced, and Who Lives? is published.
His focus is now on longer fiction. He’s published two comic novels, The Brightest Moon of the Century and Love at Absolute Zero, and two crime novels, Blood Drama and A Death in Vegas. He’s working on a novel based on the Iraq War. His unique literary sensibility ties them together–perhaps like the films from the Coen Brothers, directors who hail from the same state.