Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Roof Whirl Away by Tom Saunders, reviewed

I'm a fan of the short story. Written a few myself. So as a reader, I appreciate the form, and like to sink my teeth into a collection as good as the latest from Tom Saunders, Roof Whirl Away, which follows his 2004 debut collection Brother, What Strange Place is This?

26 stories in all, Saunders's characters are complex, real, flawed, and people you can either relate to, or feel that you know. And if you don't, you'll know them by the end of the tale. Saunders grabs you from the get go and doesn't let go. Here is the opener to the story "Bonny Craigallen," which leads off the collection:

I don't do the violence any more. I don't use my fists and I haven't touched a gun since the business with Garner. Anger flows through me nowadays, it doesn't get stoppered-up inside, an acid to burn and scar. It's no longer necessary to what I do. But I can still remember what it was like to be a dangerous man. The authority of it. The pride. The adrenaline. To front up another fledgling hard bastard and know you've gone further, oh so much further than he has.

Powerful stuff, and a strong voice.

There are many stand out stories in Roof Whirl Away, like the touching "Lasting," which is loosely based on the life of the 19th century English naturalist and writer Richard Jefferies; or the aging rock star of "Sunburst Guitar," whose prized Hofner guitar is stolen by a teenage street performer; or the hilarious "Big," which features adult star La Hooters McDade (Martha to her friends), who just needs a little R&R, some time off from being the larger than life La Hooters McDade.

I tried to pace myself while reading this book, so I could extend the pleasure as long as possible. But that didn't always work. I'd turn the page and be onto the next story without even realizing it. Roof Whirl Away is one of those books that makes me wish I owned a book store, so I could put it up front and spread the word about it. But I guess I just did! If you are a lover of the short story, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy.

To purchase Roof Whirl Away, click on this link:
Roof Whirl Away

1 comment:

Jared said...

Hi Tom,
I'm a fellow writer and I've been ruminating on a project that I think other authors (especially those of us unfortunate enough to have to work really hard at promoting ourselves)might be interested in.
I'm starting it a database... for authors who are either self-publishing or self-promoting. I was wondering if you are interested and if so I'd like an email where I can get ahold of you when I have an actual mock-up of the site ready.

If you're interested in my work, you can check it out at (and if you'd like to swap links, I'd be more than happy to do that.) Thanks!
Jared Michaud