Ultimately, though, This Close is about the way the people evolve over time; the numerous faces any individual wears over the course of his or her life, and the near-impossibility of truly knowing anyone on account of it.
After all of the unhappy characters striving for shallow aims, Costello’s quality allows Gavin to close the collection with a sense of quiet hopefulness. It also gives Middle Men a larger shape that makes it, as all good collections should be, greater in total than merely a succession of well-crafted stories.
Your father died in the early afternoon. They found him gray skin and bones, wide haunted eyes, clotted with white. They found him in his filth. They found him covered in flies. They found him sprawled on the floor, a broken thing, the bruised flesh, the tangled sheets. And they knew he must have called for help. He must have struggled from the bed. He must have known the end as it tore at his chest. As it grinned from the shadows. He must have known the light dimming. He must have known the sounds of carrion birds thrashing and screaming and clattering. He must have called out in his wretched way, bellowed with his half-mouth, thrashed with what arms and legs he retained, until the final moment, when the jaws descended and all ceased to move.
From “The Souls of Alligators” by Robert Kloss
‘This give us a lot of hope,’ [Andy Ward] said. ‘People say people don’t want to read short fiction, but this seems to be working out really well.’
Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories by Leslie Kaufman
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