WANDERERS is a book of short stories that showcases a writer’s skill with words and the fine art of moving a story forward with little waste or compromise. The words are clever and bright creating a clear image in the mind; I will always be able to conjure up the image of salt and pepper stubble and heads when I think of this particular read. I also think this is a man’s book and full of manly stories because all of the male characters are caught in a quandary life changing moment or forced into some change to reckon with and there are few resolutions within each story.
The females in the stories were composite women or caricatures even when they were thought to be the main event. This I found to be disconcerting until I figured out that they were just the boundaries to the theme and made it more cleverly and precisely defined. It did not matter which continent the women were blamed for everything; stereotypically belittling and angry. But then again, these were not stories about women, rather men in a transition stage. It was almost a limbo stage because none of the characters with the exception of two were acting in a forward motion. I have encountered women who were as mean spirited as some of these characters, and many more who just wander away in search of a different home.
I enjoyed Edward Belfar’s use of words; his good story telling. I enjoyed that the stories took place in Africa, the USA, and Rome and found myself looking for how the folks were going to move through their environment. The descriptions were marvelous even when they were about the tired and the old/neglected remnants. The titles of the books the character’s published made me laugh out loud each and every time. So many of the words spoke volumes and I enjoyed looking up a few along the way to explore their depth of meaning in that instance.
WANDERERS took me by surprise as it was not what I was expecting. It took me a few stories before I began to anticipate the abrupt curb jolt of the endings. I was very glad when one story continued on later to bear witness to the fact that the fellow was in the same transition as in Rome and still unable to move, even when provided a loving child to guide the way.
My partner is in the middle of a big life change, and I could see how he was moving through this limbo stage, depressed stage, blame stage, and allowing his mind to wander looking for acceptance of his reality and not finding any doors to open towards change. I wanted to talk to my counselor friends about whether they had seen this kind of staging in other men in transition. I found it comforting to understand Wanderers as fifteen stories about a point of change . I did not find the hope that one moves through this and actually transitions. Stuck and avoidance are ideas that did come to mind. I did not read this book before going to bed because I found they created a feeling of depression within me and I wanted time to work that energy off.
I would highly recommend the WANDERERS as a fine read. I just put in a request for another of Edward Belfar’s books at the library because I found his skill in writing admirable, and discovered this to be his first book.
I received a PDF copy of this book from TLC Books and Stephen F. Austin University Press and I thank them for the opportunity to read and review this book. The author is offering up a copy to one of my commenters. I look forward to what you have to say.
Would you like to share your thoughts about a book you’re reading or help a fellow wanderer through a transition please contact us at WiseEars.