“And it’s true that the only thing the kids remember about most of this stuff is buying it: the jolt of commercial desire followed by the soft shock of success as the parental wallet opened – and then the getting bored.” (page 94 ‘Mike’s Song’ of an uncorrected proof copy of the book)
We’ve got a dozen stories by a good writer in FLINGS and I very much enjoy short stories these days and I would call it a good read and an interesting experience. FLINGS was just right for the business of my life in the autumn harvest and before the winter big read season.
The reader experiences an excerpt of the whole life story of a great many characters in FLINGS. Although one character from a story as a secondary pivot character, finds his own chapter later on, this is not a group of connected stories like OLIVE KITTERIDGE or WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW. What the characters have as a common thread is that they have left some place or state of being and are now trying to identify their next move and forward motion. The characters all seemed like New Yorkers though much of the action took place in other locations such as Hong Kong, Portland,Oregon, Ohio, Canada and Tennessee. I don’t know if I can say this but as the characters wander about in search of their new states of being, the writing has a driven aspect that keeps the reader moving page after page.
Lots of themes about academia, music and writing with an overall literary quality; fascinating to read about what young men think about women and college girls these days. The movies too reveal a lot of just random sex, and never much about the meaning of life or the depth of communication or relationship possibilities. Maybe they will just wander into the right place or the right person for them while trying on 6 or 7 at a time. Life as performance art and auditions. I lost interest in several stories because of this lack and actually several books recently because of this current writing trend.
Several of the characters are well developed because of the fine writing; there was a searching quality to many of the stories which left me sometimes searching myself, wanting more so I would create what I thought would happen next. Limbo? Younger writers like this wanting feeling, I do not want it in all twelve stories. I had to dig to find humor even though several reviewers found it very fun. We all search for connection and our spot in life just maybe we do not find it until as the Baptist’s in my town say: “He’s been called home.”
Justin Taylor is the author of the story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever and the novel The Gospel of Anarchy. He lives, writes and teaches in New York City.
It was a pleasure to read FLINGS and I am thankful for the opportunity.
“Every choice makes us and remakes us. What’s incredible, Danielle thought, is not that we might have been somebody else, or nobody, but rather that despite everything we are somehow still ourselves.” (Page 207 of uncorrected copy.)