Joan Silber’s newest, Fools, is a collection of six short stories. Silber’s short stories are long stories, rich in character and plot. Her stories cover large expanses of time (years in some cases). Her stories are told from the point of view of a single character, many times starting centered on an event, strolling quickly to another time and place and always ending in a different time and place. The stories illustrate the bulk of the character’s life, showing the importance of certain decisions and actions, showing how the consequences change them. The stories are encompassing of the character’s life, but they are not so overwhelming that they would be hard to digest. The shifts are subtle and flow easily. Though the stories are longer than the average, they are concise, not meandering and are well worth the time.
The book has a loose linking of characters but each story can easily stand on its own. The linking of the stories is subtle, not overly deliberate. It is the theme of being a fool that runs throughout and binds the stories together. Silber illuminates foolishness differently throughout, whether a fool for money/wealth, love, or moral principles.
The title story, “Fools,” runs for the first 57 pages of the book. It is a lengthy and interesting story about a group of friends, young anarchist rebels, including the infamous Dorothy Day before she was famous. In another of the stories, “Two Opinions,” the main character, Louise narrates the story beginning with visiting her father in prison when she was nine years old. We follow Louise through her first love at sixteen and marriage to a man named Ted when she was in her second year of college. The story continues to move swiftly through time, pausing to show the reader important events and ends years later. Other stories span continents.
Silber continues to amaze and show her strengths as a writer with this newest collection. Fools is of the same caliber as her previous works and no doubt she’ll have more great collections in the future. The stories are very well written, addictive and immersing.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W.W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.