|(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
The stories in No Longer and Not Yet look at the ways our lives are lived in the split seconds between what is no longer but is still not yet. Most take place on Manhattan's iconic Upper West Side, in the shops, hallways, and parks that reveal this well-known "big city" neighborhood for the tiny, even backwater village it more often resemebles. An Upper West Sider herself, Joanna Clapps Herman draws her characters honestly yet tenderly, revealing them as much through how they move - the slope of a shoulder, a vocal inflection, the weight of a football - as by what they do, as though their bodies speak the truths they can't express.
Here, Hannah Arendt's ghost haunts the building where she once lived, a hawk carries the apparition of a lost loved one, a homeless woman becomes Demeter. Small moments and intimacies of life weave together to form a bigger picture: the squeak of the hotel bed, a leaf on a saucer, the quality of light in the therapist's office, the doorman's familiar jokes, the open cupboards, the unspoken words. These stories show that, although we may think of ourselves in larger mythic narratives, our days are set in the terrain that is the opposite of the vast.
I'm a huge fan of the short story and No Longer and Not Yet solidified that sentiment. Joanna Clapps Herman has created a fantastic set of stories that accurately capture everyday life in the Upper West Side of NYC. We get a glimpse into the urban dwellers sensible and rather mundane life style - the one that consists of juggling playgroup, homework, dinner, and laundry. This book is an exploration of normalcy through a group of characters that are unlikeable, relatable, and rather flawed. We get the fear, doubt, unhappiness, loneliness that emanate from these characters as they endure struggles within their lives and relationships. In fact, some of the stories interlink, which really helped to provide a much deeper and richer understanding of the characters' "no longer" and "not yet" moments in their lives. I just loved that Herman chose to focus on these small moments in life that really do make a difference (without us really knowing it at the time.) To get lost in a someone's moment makes us more aware and present for our own "no longer" and "not yet" moments. I found that Herman's writing had a feeling of sparseness that added an emotional depth to the stories - it helped evoke such strong emotions and reactions with the simplest description of a look or movement. I just loved this book and Herman's writing - it was terrific!
I would happily recommend No Longer and Not Yet to fans of the short story and to fans of great writing. Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: No Longer and Not Yet
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to the publisher, I'm able to give away one copy of this excellent book. Just leave me a comment - don't forget to include your email address, so I can contact you in case you win. Open to US residents only. Last date to enter is July 20th, 2014. Good luck!!