just some stuff i wrote: stories
Doubleday, 2005 (2005)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
illiam Bell wrote the excellent
, about a seventeen-year-old's discovery that war is not a game in Tiananmen Square. In
just some stuff i wrote
, he gives us eight short stories, that show individuals isolated from (in many cases dysfunctional) families and communities.
The "Scream" School of Parenting
, a young woman goes home, depressed about losing an important part in the school play, to make her own birthday dinner - her parents show up late from
jobs, and leave early, interacting only at the surface. Behind their perfect home are boisterous, loud families in semidetached houses, '
munching hamburgers, sloshing down the beer, yakking and laughing.
' Which is better? It's left to the reader to decide.
unfolds via a series of taped police interviews with high school students. We discover what happened to Akmed Khan from Bahrain, judged guilty of
by the school
. And in
The Leaves in This Country
, a lonely older woman's prejudices prevent her from seeing, and preventing, abuse that is under her nose.
pollo and Dionysis
strays into fantasy, as a young music/computer nerd accompanies his parents to Cuba and is there magicked into becoming his polar opposite.
shows the misunderstandings through which a young woman's crush on a male teacher develops and takes a nasty turn. In my favorite in the collection,
, Vic is assigned to show an eccentric new student the ropes for a week, to complete community service he owes his principal - he's surprised to find himself, and his teachers, learning important lessons from Chumley.
is a ghost story that develops through a series of emails from Cole (filming ghoul-rock videos in Edinburgh) to his younger sister Marci. A crisis of conscience changes his life's direction.
Beer Can Man
, Albert's mom cleans homes for a living. He and his Grandad collect beer cans and bottles from parks and roadsides. He's ashamed to hear men calling Grandad a '
Friggin' welfare bum. Friggin' beer can man.
' There's a whole lot of food for thought and discussion in
just some stuff i wrote
, which looks hard at individuals isolated from their societies, and at the folly of assumptions about others, based on appearances.
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