NO LONGER AND NOT YET: Stories ~Joanna Clapps Herman
“Death, when you weren’t actually faced with it, was something like that. A small boat in a large body of water going toward a vague line that never came any closer-death always the same safe distance from your boat. No matter how long you moved toward it, it continued to move off ahead of you. Then when someone you knew died, death appeared in your boat, and you were supposed to contend with its abrupt, confusing arrival, for which you had no talent, no gift. It was never as if you came to believe it. You were just very confused. Full of refusal. After a time of stunned confusion it moved back out there far away where it belonged. And wasn’t considered again until it had to be again. The horizon what is not yet.” (Page 102)
NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a collection of 26 stories which are all connected to the Upper Westside of New York City. As of late, I have been reading a number of books that for varied reasons keep me reading long into the night and wanting to savor and finish them right away. As much as I love short stories and like to read one a day when partaking, this was an exception to my rule for the fact that I have a fixed review date and because the stories touched each other in ways that made the reader want to know.
Tess, Max and eventually Paul were the thread that held the weave of the stories together. Tess has a wealth of friends right in the neighborhood and they then became their own stories and found connection back to Tess for advice and support. Tess told the stories of living and what she is aware of and then interpreted these ideas to the reader to get the whole picture. Her best friend Naomi lived in a building on Riverside Street and the residents within added the breadth of the friendships. The reader is able to get a clear picture and attend to the day’s experience.
It made a section of NYC cozy and connecting and the writing and details brought clarity with the exquisite use of words. The reader is connected and feels present; for me particularly about the “mother thoughts” going on inside each woman during her day or excerpt. The problems seemed normal and not overblown and were infused with moments of wine, a sigh of relief and laughter.
These are everyday stories which make sense in our everyday and yet we are privy to the thinking and the actions in a way which reminds us that we are not alone. There are others living plain lives and having questions and concerns just like ours and yet they are drawn together because of their communications and sharing. The words tighten the threads of connection and understanding. There are two thinking about the crazy flower woman in the park and two attempting to help the box man not freeze to death on a rare cold snowy night. Can you imagine being the only mother and son playing in a NYC park – no one else on the swings? Is the teacher always right or does she say the wrong things to your child?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was so wonderful to have a summer rainy day to wander and walk through years with these delightful characters into their lives and resolutions. NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a 5 star read.
TLC online book tours sent me a copy of NO LONGER AND NOT YET for review and it was a pleasure to share this book with you
“Joanna Clapps Herman teaches creative writing in the MFA Graduate Program at Manhattanville College and at the Center for Worker Education, a division of City College of New York, CUNY. She is the author of THE ANARCHIST BASTARD:GROWING UP ITALIAN IN AMERICA, also published by SUNY Press; coeditor (with Carol Bonomo Albright) of Wild Dreams: The best of Italian Americana; and coeditor(with Lee Gutkind) of OUR ROOTs ARE DEEP WITH PASSION: Creative Nonfiction Collect New Essays by Italian-American Writers. She lives in New Your City.” (Cover)
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