Is it possible to make sense out of life and living? The random occurrences and interactions? Is it worth attempting to unravel the chaos? Some people would say that attempting to do so defeats the purpose. That the mystery is perhaps the purpose entirely. I think we just can’t help ourselves. Trying to find explanations I mean. We concoct a mess of reasons, justifications, and excuses to give our lives a higher meaning, a sense of purpose. In Making Sense, a collection of short stories, we meet twenty individuals who have absolutely nothing in common other than their persistent need to force life into making sense. They do their best to answer life’s questions and when they inevitably fail, they rely on other psychology senses.
I will give you some advice right now. Read the glossary of Scottish slang located at the back of the book before you begin. Unless you’re Scottish of course. Then you will know exactly what Murdoch’s characters are talking about. I don’t mind slang from the general area of the United Kingdom, but I felt like the style of writing was authentic to the author’s native tongue, yet forced you to read in an accent I’m assuming most of you don’t have. I had to read through the stories a few times to get the hang of it before really getting into the true depth of each story as it was slightly distracting.
There were a few stories in this collection that stood out to me. I really enjoyed the short story titled “Objects of Intention and Affection”. I really felt the characters come to life and Eve was very relatable. She swims, and perhaps nearly drowns a few times, through life and in the end finds that her problem wasn’t the people she interacted with, but the way she viewed herself in the interaction. Once she realized she was a subject rather than an object, her entire perception of life changed and I’d like to think it was definitely for the better.
“Katherine and Juliet” was another story in this collection that touched me. Katherine seems to have put her sense of identity onto the shoulders of her mother and when she finds out she was adopted, she struggles to find someone to pin that responsibility and sense of self onto. I have felt that struggle and I found it enlightening that Katherine finally realized she was her own person and her identity was up to her to shape and develop.
As a whole, I will admit that I loved the authenticity and reality of each story and its characters. It was wonderfully written and I will definitely be picking up more work by Jim Murdoch. I feel like I discovered something new each time I re-read each story. I have to say, I found this collection absolutely brilliant.
Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Jim Murdoch. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.