No Longer and Not Yet by Joanna Clapps Herman
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Excelsior Editions (March 1, 2014)
The stories in “No Longer and Not Yet” look at the ways our lives are lived in the split seconds between what is no longer but is still not yet. Most take place on Manhattan’s iconic Upper West Side, in the shops, hallways, and parks that reveal this well-known big city neighborhood for the tiny, even backwater village it more often resembles. An Upper West Sider herself, Joanna Clapps Herman draws her characters honestly yet tenderly, revealing them as much through how they move the slope of a shoulder, a vocal inflection, the weight of a football as by what they do, as though their bodies speak the truths they can’t express.
Here, Hannah Arendt s ghost haunts the building where she once lived, a hawk carries the apparition of a lost loved one, a homeless woman becomes Demeter. Small moments and intimacies of life weave together to form a bigger picture: the squeak of the hotel bed, a leaf on a saucer, the quality of light in the therapist s office, the doorman s familiar jokes, the open cupboards, the unspoken words. These stories show that, although we may think of ourselves in larger mythic narratives, our days are set in the terrain that is the opposite of the vast.
I’ve recently become a huge fan of short story collections, and this book is a great example of how good they can be.
This book is full of characters whose stories will transport you to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and into their lives as if you were actually there. The author made sure of that with a writing style that brings the characters to life.
The stories are about friends and neighbors, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters. It’s about the people closest to us, people that you don’t really know, but who are a part of your everyday life. It’s about the hum drum of everyday. The little things that happen daily and the people in our lives that make us who we are. The stories are happy, sad, funny, and even a bit on the scary side.
If you want to read a book that will give you a wide range of emotions, this book will do that. It’s a quick read, just over 200 pages, but is a book you won’t soon forget.