BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

All That Is Left Is All That Matters by Mark Slouka [in Booklist]

James Anderson Foster narrates 13 of 15 stories in Slouka’s newest collection, his second in two decades after his 1998 short-fiction debut, Lost Lake. Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, sons and mothers, men and animals figure prominently here. Foster effortlessly embodies these diverse characters, individualizing them with deeper tones for age, gravelly nuances for experiences, tentative rises for not-yet maturity. He is especially affecting in “The Hare’s Mask,” in which a father’s childhood memories during the Holocaust involving pet rabbits haunt his young son decades later, and in “Dog,” a surreal tale about a man and his beloved canine, which suddenly begins to grow razor blades in her fur.

Cris Dukehart‘s two stories include “Russian Mammoths,” about a woman who recalls a little girl killed just beyond her garden, and “Half-Life,” about a 62-year-old woman who’s been voluntarily housebound since her husband left.

At not-quite five hours, the collection moves quickly, but standouts undoubtedly linger. Slouka proves to be a master of capturing tenuous relationships without devolving into abject despair. Controlled, patient, and empathetic, Foster and Dukehart prove enhancing collaborators.

Review: “Media,” Booklist Online, March 8, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published 2019


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