Sunday, February 07, 2010

Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch (2010)

I got a copy of Apparition & Late Fictions (2010), the debut fiction collection of essayist and poet Thomas Lynch, through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. After I started reading it, I realized that I had actually read one of the stories ("Hunter's Moon") when it appeared in Granta a few years ago, and really liked it at the time.

In addition to being a published author, Lynch has run the funeral home that he inherited from his father since the mid-1970s. [And he wrote a collection of essays about the business, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade that was nominated for a National Book Award in the 1990s, and which I'd really like to read.] The theme of death and loss runs through all the short stories and the novella in this collection -- sometimes overtly (a young funeral home director who tends to a widow's dead husband and later her dead daughter; a coffin salesman who is mourning the death of his third wife and the long-ago loss of his daughter; a young man who takes his father fishing for the last time), and sometimes more subtly (a wealthy and respected professor, the widow of a famous poet, who isolates herself at a Michigan resort and becomes obsessed with a beautiful young Jamaican waitress; a former Methodist minister who finds success on the lecture circuit after writing a self-help book about prospering after a divorce, but who can't resist touring himself around the resort island where his ex-wife had her first affair).

All the stories are written with a light touch, and Lynch gives us a fleshed out and lived-with description of the landscape and characters of the Upper Midwest. I really enjoyed this solid collection of fiction, and I look forward to reading Lynch in some of his other genres.

1 comment:

Nimble said...

I loved The Undertaking. He seems like an opinionated cuss with the endearing acknowledgment that his metier is creepy. He describes with great tenderness (never cloying) the lives (long and short) of the people he meets.