Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Fools," by Joan Silber

Joan Silber’s “Fools” (Norton, 2013) doesn’t say “stories” or “a novel” after the title, as so many works of fiction do. It appears that this is a collection of stories, but some characters are found in more than one story, so each story’s history and events provide a sort of background and network for the other stories. The stories take place in New York, Miami, Paris, and India, among other places, and although contemporary, often dip into the past. The characters and events are genuinely interesting, and I like that politics play a part in the stories. For example, there are anarchist characters; this is not something often found in today’s fiction. Several of the characters are quite poor at various times in their lives, and struggle with alcohol as well. Actually, some of them would be labeled “losers” by most people, yet they have their own integrity, their own ways of dealing with life. The stories are fresh, different, and thought-provoking, which is what we all look for in stories.

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