Eveningland (★★★★☆)

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Michael Knight   *   Atlantic Monthly Press   *   March 7, 2017   *   304 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

Eveningland is a collection of seven loosely-connected short stories set in Alabama. Each story is unique, but they all share a certain relaxed and melancholy tone. These characters are experiencing the Big Stuff like marriage, love, death, and grief, but their “real” stories are communicated through the sweet and simple little nothings of their daily lives. This is a book of detailed moments that hint at the bigger picture without ever totally revealing it. Every story left me wondering, curious, wanting more.

I had two clear favorites, though. In Jubilee, middle-aged couple Kendra and Dean are comfortable with each other but also disconnected. The story follows them through their tried-and-true married-life routine in the weeks leading up to Dean’s big birthday celebration. I still can’t tell if this one is supposed to be happy or sad…

In Grand Old Party, a man (with his shotgun) follows his wife to her lover’s home intending to blow said lover to bits, but an unexpected Chinese food delivery throws off his game. And then things get weird.

Both stories surprised me by not going anywhere I expected them to. And even then, author Michael Knight still manages to leave just the right amount of ambiguity; the stories offer some closure, but they also leave a lot of room to imagine where it all leads and what it all means. I liked that.

I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting and quick to read. It made me think, and I connected with the characters. But it also wasn’t ever overwhelming with the feelz. This was a great “between books” book–a nice palate cleanser.

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