Where books are chronicled from beginning to end, and never stop being read.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Such is Life

Such is Life: Short Stories by Jeri Walker-Bickett
No one raindrop is the same. Even during a deluge, everything is affected within the environment, the atmosphere, the terrain... And though the weather will change, the sun will eventually shine, and there will be nothing noticeably different to the naked eye, something has inexplicably been altered. The same can be said for stories.

Such is Life by Jeri Walker-Bickett is a prime example of such stories. The stories contained within the book are hilarious, rough, heart-wrenching and realistic. It gives rise to an impetus of emotion.

Walker-Bickett allows each character to hold a longstanding voice, raw and powerful, taking center stage within his or her own lament. From a young girl giving way to a careless moment of drugs and sex, to an over-worked, deeply criticized and under appreciated teacher who suddenly rekindles a long forgotten sense of self-worth, the reader is pulled into the fragments of each damaged and unforgettable struggle.

"I wanted to scream in his face that I also loved to drink lots of wine on occasion and that all sorts of premarital screwing around marked my past. I reminded myself I was talking to a man who didn’t drink alcohol or coffee, and who had most certainly remained a virgin until exchanging wedding vows."

Remarkably enough, Shirley Baker struck me as a the most prolific and edifying character. Her story is one like so many middle-class Americans. A wife and mother of two girls, Shirley lives her life with the usual headaches and has a seemingly normal lifestyle. But she is faced with an awful dilemma that divides her mental and emotional stability.

"She opened a bottle of vodka and a container of orange juice. On her way to the living room, she stopped at the gun cabinet, unlocked it, and took Gerald’s pistol from its holster."

There is an intensely quiet scene as Shirley sits getting sloshed with her dog sitting next to her, all the while watching morning cartoons: "Marty raised his head and flicked his ears in her direction. He cocked his head to the side and watched Shirley cry. Gail and Dawn were awake now, cuddling beneath an afghan with Marty at the foot of Shirley’s rocker." That one moment struck a chord. The depth of the attachment was hauntingly morbid and heartbreaking.

There is a confession of the soul that abounds from the vastly different stories contained within this book. Walker-Bickett's writing is stark and vivid, inspiring a certain honesty that draws the reader into a nearly palpable fascination.

I will admit that upon viewing the cover of Such is Life, I assumed the stories would either be entertaining or strange. I was never more mistaken for thinking in such a circumscribed manner. I was shocked at the incredible narration and unique writing style that the author possesses. It was beyond entertaining. The stories were addictive.

It takes a special talent to be able to keep writing simple and witty, yet tell volumes within the same words. Walker-Bickett has achieved both. I certainly hope to read more books by this author in the future.

Jeri Walker-Bickett is an author, editor, and teacher. She primarily writes contemporary literary fiction and psychological suspense.

Such is Life by Jeri Walker-Bickett, 2013 ebook

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