'Last car over the Sagamore Bridge'

Friday, August 16, 2013

Peter Orner. Little, Brown, 198 pp. $25

In true book love, a podcast I've come to look forward to each week is Books on the Nightstand, where two sales representatives for Random House speak about books and book news as a side project. This year, one of the reps., Ann, has decided to read a short story each day for the entire year. And she's, on average, kept up with it.

Before the podcast, I had never imagined reading a book of short stories a small bit at a time. I had always approached a collection the same way I'd approached a novel: sit down and read.

But when I received "Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge," I thought I'd try something new. I decided to read it small bits at a time. And so every few hours I'd open and read a single short story. Then I'd put the book aside and continue on with my day for a bit.

When I changed the way I approached a collection of short stories, I changed the way I approached the short story as an entire genre. One went right along with the other. All of a sudden the story was its own entity, and not simply a part of a greater show. And the more I realized this, the more I realized how much I like reading short stories.

Unfortunately, because I had to finish the book in a rather timely fashion for review, I had to sit and read the last third or so in one sitting, but I think I might go back and reread those one at a time. Reading them all at once definitely affected how I viewed the last section of the book.

"Last Car of the Sagamore Bridge," is a great book, especially for readers who are still experimenting with short fiction. Many of the stories are only a few pages in length (which may have contributed to the time frame it took me to read the 198 pages), and all are easy to grasp and captivating. With many of them, including "1979" and "Feb. 26, 1995," I was almost sad that the story didn't continue, and I thought back to them often as if they had belonged to novels I had read and loved in the past.

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