I must admit, I am not a massive fan of short stories. Why? Purely because they are short. With short stories, it feels almost like you start somewhere in the middle and before you realise the story is over. Imagine yourself really wanting to go swimming, you get ready, the excitement builds up and as soon as you are at the pool you jump in only to realise that the water is way too cold and you just shoot out of there never to return. That’s how short stories feel to me, never getting the full satisfaction the same way I get from other books.
Said that, now and again I feel like I need to read something else, something different, something unexpected and it is in these times that I reach for short stories. So when I got the chance to read the Westsiders, I thought, why not. And I wasn’t disappointed. This collection of short stories is like a deluxe package of spa treatment for your soul. You find yourself slowly strolling through 1940′s/50′s Corner Brook in Newfoundland listening to the stories of some of its residents. The book is full of more or less loveable characters and you only get a sneak peek into a brief moments in their lives. And that’s when you realise that generations upon generations have dealt with the same problems as people are dealing with now. The only difference is that now we have more options how to deal with the situations such as unwanted pregnancy or secret relationship and running away with a boss.
As you can imagine, Corner Brook in the middle of last century must have been place small enough for everyone to know everyone and ultimately a place where everyone was involved in everyone’s business. So there is no surprise that the underlying theme for the stories is an escape from Corner Brook. It seems that there are truly just two options – either to escape or stay and be the major topic of the town’s latest gossip.
Overall, I had nice time with this book and my only hope is that when the time comes and I pick another book of short stories, I will be as lucky as with this ones.