Review: The Impressionists by Andrew Biss

The Impressionists

The Impressionists / Andrew Biss

Published June 30th 2011 by Vacancy Books.

* In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free through LibraryThing Member Giveaways.

At approximately 13,000 words, this is a short one.  In fact, I read it off my computer instead of on my B&N nook.  But it was still a very good read.

The Impressionists consists of six short stories about social issues such as self image, domestic abuse, family relationships, alcoholism, and crime.  All of them are told in the first person.  As short as they are, the stories are all hard-hitting and touching.

A couple of them deal with the self-confidence (or lack thereof) of women.  “Big Girl” is about Peggy who bought a self-help book.  As the title suggests, she is a big girl.  Even though the book is telling her that it’s okay and being fat makes her more accepting of people, Peggy calls bull and buckles under the societal pressures.  It is a rather candid ‘keeping it real’ piece.  “The Replica” is about an abused wife reflecting on how she ended up the way she is now.  Every morning, she looks at herself in the mirror and she sees a shell, a shadow of what she was.  She used to have dreams and a love of life.  Now, she depends on medication to numb everything out.  “WYWH” – Wish You Were Here – is about a woman who found a new identity online.  In her real life, she’s still grieving over the loss of her son many years ago.  It showed that through the Internet, she is able to pretend she is someone else (as many of us often do, I’m sure) to distract herself from the pain of reality.  That one was really heart-wrenching.

The rest of the stories center a little bit on crime.  And punishment.  “One Night Only” was very interesting.  A serial killer, about to get the lethal injection, spends his final moments interviewing himself.  “Organ Failure” is a woman talking to a corpse at a funeral viewing.  She was there when the person in the coffin died.  She found that person unconscious, in a pool of vomit.  And finally, “A Small Act of Vandalism”, it is about a troubled man with a secret.  He keeps his mother’s ashes in a sealed jar but his memories are harder to bottle up.

What I loved the most about these stories are the voices.  All of them are very different.  The author did a fantastic job of giving them distinct personalities.  They have their own troubles and basically, what we are reading is their internal monologue.  I loved how it flowed neatly and the stories are just so solid.  Very, VERY well-written.

Rating: 4/5.

Recommendation: To anyone who has time to spare.  🙂  Really, it took me less than an hour to read through all six stories.  And they are good ones!

Get you copy here.

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