Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On Tour: You Won’t Remember This by Kate Blackwell

You Won't Remember This

You Won’t Remember This by Kate Blackwell
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Kindle, 232 Pages
Genre: Short Stories/Southern Fiction

The twelve stories in Kate Blackwell’s debut collection illuminate the lives of men and women who appear as unremarkable as your next-door-neighbor until their lives explode quietly on the page. Her wry, often darkly funny voice describes the repressed underside of a range of middle-class characters living in the South. Blackwell’s focus is elemental—on marriage, birth, death, and the entanglements of love at all ages—but her gift is to shine a light on these universal situations with such lucidity, it is as if one has never seen them before.
My thoughts about You Won't Remember This ~~ 

This book is promoted as a short story collection of southern fiction/women's fiction. Okay, so it totally had me at southern and women's fiction. The short story part, not so much. I don't really read short stories. I don't know why. Short stories have just never appealed to me as something that I would want to read. But what I love about my blogging life is the exposure I have had to so many new genres. This collection of stories opened my eyes to a whole other part of the fiction world that I am going to have to check out. 

Like I said, I enjoy women's fiction and I seem to be on a southern fiction reading kick right now. This collection is all that and so much more. Kate is a wonderful writer and each story was such a treat to read. There really was so much depth written into each story that I walked away from each of them feeling satisfied. I really felt like I was able to learn so much about each character in each story and situation. I didn’t feel cheated because it wasn't a 'full length' novel.  Does that make sense? Maybe that’s why I have avoided short story collections in the past -- I didn't think they could be as good and hold my attention as well as a something that was a whole lot longer.

Well, I now know that my thinking about all that was totally wrong. If the writer is good at what they do, they can leave the reader satisfied, no matter the length of their work. And I felt very satisfied after each one of Kate's stories. Thank you, Kate for opening my eyes to another part of fiction writing, and reading, that is available for me to explore. I can't wait to read more! 


Carpe Diem

The "shadow line," Kurt calls it. Carroll believes he is referring to age, to some transitional moment into old age. But what moment exactly? When we are too old to make love? Too tired to feel desire? Kurt shrugs. When our hopes are extinguished? When I'll never see you again? What line are you talking about, Kurt?

Kurt is almost fifty but looks younger. His hair is a dark silky brown. His skin is smooth. There is a youthful leprechaun quality about him, though he is beginning to have a paunch about the belly. He does not get enough exercise. If he could ski regularly, he says, he would lose that flab. Kurt is an expert skier. He learned to ski when he was five, in Germany. When he was eleven, he had a terrible accident that broke both legs below the knee. The fractured fibulas erupted through flesh and skin. Carroll, drawing her finger along the deep scars on Kurt's calves, tries to envision the accident, the broken skis, the bloodied snow, the boy lying there in the snow, waiting for someone to come.

But she has a hard time picturing Kurt as a boy. Sometimes she has a hard time remembering what he looks like now. Though they have been together for nearly two years, loosely speaking—she has her own place, he has his—they really do not see that much of each other. Kurt is a free-lance photographer and is often traveling. Benin. Djibouti. Sucre. Carroll, too, is busy. She owns and runs a nursery school called Sunshine Day for three- and four-year-olds. Sometimes months go by when Carroll and Kurt do not see each other, though sometimes, out of the blue, he will call from some distant place. She will hear his voice, high-pitched and tentative, a as if he did not expect her to answer (or perhaps it’s the connection that makes it sound that way?)—Hello? Remember me?—and she feels such happiness it terrifies her. Does he actually believe she has forgotten him?

And yet, in certain ways, she does forget. Today, standing in her school yard among all the small revved-up bodies and high yelling voices, sniffing the odors of sand and lilac, she tries to conjure his face. She knows his eyes are green, his nose small and sharp, his skin lightly freckled. But she cannot visualize his mouth or the curve of his cheek or his expression when he looks at her. She cannot remember his voice. She expects to hear that voice, though, perhaps in a few hours. Kurt is due back today from Mali. Or is it Niger? The prospect of seeing him makes her giddy. He has been away nearly two months. Even so, even in the midst of her excitement, she can't help asking herself where this relationship is going. The question occurs to her all the time, but whenever she alludes to the future—an off-hand reference to season tickets for the opera or a time-share deal on a beach house—Kurt shakes his head.

"Carpe diem," he says, in his lightly accented speech.

And Carroll, though she is not seeking permanence, though she does not believe that relationships require official bonds, though she is happy living on her own and seeing Kurt for compressed periods of passion and good talk, is enraged.

Carpe diem indeed.

About the author

Kate Blackwell worked as a journalist and editor before turning full-time to fiction. Her first collection, You Won't Remember This, was published in hardback in 2007 by Southern Methodist University Press.  Her stories have appeared in numerous journals, including Agni, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Carve, The Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Sojourner, and So To Speak. She lives in Washington, DC.

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