Train Shots

Train Shots

by Vanessa Blakeslee

Lauren O'Regan (01/14/14): From its opening pages, “Train Shots” serves up a candid collection of characters whose struggles—as ordinary as they are bizarre, as beautiful as they are painful—make for great fiction and profound truths. Blakeslee's stories are like dramatic snapshots, each one a colorful glimpse of our sordid and vibrant humanity. Clean, compelling, and honest, "Train Shots" deserves a prominent spot on the contemporary reader's bookshelf.
Rating: *****

Sharon Faelten (11/26/13): If indeed literature shows us what it means to be human--to feel what only humans feel--then this story collection is masterfully revealing. Shorter stories in the collection offer readers an opportunity to eavesdrop on young adults working minimum wage jobs or sharing quarters with “quirky” (crazy) roommates. One common denominator is the authenticity of the dialogue—or monologue, in the case of the opening story, “Clock In.” The story brilliantly captures the rhythmic patter of a server at a Mexican restaurant training a newbie to use the computer-driven ordering system, replete with snarky digressions about the managers and staff. Same with two roommates bickering in “Ask Jesus.” Longer pieces in the collection probe torment and angst prompted by disquieting events in the lives of middle-aged adults: An expatriate’s disillusionment with life in Costa Rica after her rescue dogs are stolen (“Welcome, Lost Dogs”). A divorced woman facing life (or death) dealing with an emotionally disturbed teenage son (“Barbecue Rabbit”). And last , the stunned emptiness a train engineer feels after his freight train fatally hits a suicidal young woman (“Train Shots”). Combined, the collection leaves you wanting to read more from this talented emerging author. (Sharon Faelten is the former Vice-President, League of Vermont Writers ---http://www.leagueofvermontwriters.org/)
Rating: *****

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