February 4, 2011

Pictures of Houses with Water Damage

by Michael Hemmingson

Black Lawrence Press

$16 178 pages

What are these stories like? At first many of them seem like text messages from someone with a predilection for Haiku. Short, clear, forgettable…“Outside, the night was clear as Siberian grain alcohol and a trillion stars twinkled in the dark sky like a trillion stars twinkling in the night sky.” Except for “Parking Space,” an account of someone who sends flowers to a neighbor who, thinking she would enjoy them, only finds out when she guesses who sent them that she is pregnant and alone.

And, “What Happens When My Wife’s Ex-Boyfriend, back from Iraq, Pays Us a Visit” which Raymond Carver would have been proud to have written. And, “Fishpole Pete” and “Branches” and, yes, “Pictures of Houses with Water Damage.” Ultimately I like the one or two sentence paragraphs (wait, isn’t that what I was making fun of at the beginning of this review?). Here is a natural storyteller, and the loosely connected pieces prove a whole greater than its parts. To see what the modern short story can do, get this book. Carver’s dead, Hemmingson is not.

Purchase this book directly from amazon for  $12. Click here: Pictures of Houses with Water Damage


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