Today as part of The Sense of Touch Blog Tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book, I have a review to share with you all. The Sense of Touch is a collection of short stories by Ron Parsons about transformation, finding yourself, and hope. In the eight short stories we see the lives and experiences of a range of people, with each story offering the characters and the readers something to take away with them. The book is available as a paperback or as an ebook so check it out!
Old friends uncomfortably reunited and lovers who cling to their distance from one another; disappearing fathers, fiercely loving grandfathers, and strangers who pass through and radically change lives…These are among the characters who populate the rugged Midwestern landscapes of the mesmerizing fiction world of Ron Parsons. In his debut collection, THE SENSE OF TOUCH (Aqueous Books; May 1, 2013), Parsons captures people of various ages in the act of searching for meaning and connection and themselves. Firmly set in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, the lush but often brutally cold heartland of America, the eight stories explore universal themes–loneliness, betrayal, transformation, hope–in fresh, sometimes fanciful, sometimes comical, sometimes jarring, and always moving and memorable ways.
About the Author
RON PARSONS is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013.
Note: I was given a copy of this book to review
The Sense of Touch is a collection of short stories that capture the lives and the landscape of the Midwest. The stories in the collection are all different, but in some ways they are all the same. They all tell stories about men and women and their lives, however extraordinary or otherwise. They show that the lives of the seemingly ordinary can be complex, that they can be both mundane and filled with passion or excitement at the same time.
What occurs in these stories shows that the seemingly ordinary can be quite extraordinary not just for the people involved, but for the reader as well. Parson is quite skilled at lulling you into a story only to turn it on its head. And while this does not occur in every story, or even in an obvious way, you never know when one will happen. It is a sudden turn you were not predicting in the story, and the style in which Parsons introduces is clever, sneaking it upon you, or casually throwing in a sentence in among a seemingly ordinary paragraph. A line, a word, a piece of dialogue can change everything and leave you questioning what has happened or shocked and engrossed in the change or new piece of information.
Short stories have the ability to capture an entire life in a short space, whether that entire lifetime is covered or not. How people are portrayed in short stories reveal so much about them as people, about the relationships they are in, they are quite skilled and powerful at telling you an entire story while not telling us an entire story. Parsons does this well, the lives of the everyday are captured and highlighted, in the remarkable and unremarkable, in the public eye and in the intimate. The characters in this collection bring their own essence to their story, whether it is the contemplations of man’s life with his grandfather, a woman trying to find herself in the city, or a man reigniting a friendship with a school friend.
What was interesting about this collection is that there are not always conclusions or final answers about things. The open ended nature of the stories isn’t unsatisfying though; there is a sense of completeness where you do not need to know any more. You understand the characters will either continue on as they are, no sign of change, or there are heart-warming moments that make you realise they are going to be ok, even after all they’ve told you. A few unanswered questions allow the readers to make up their own minds, and even those with hints at conclusions still allow you the same opportunity.
With a total of eight stories making up this collection Parsons’ gives us people who could be anybody and who in some way can be related to by everybody. The absurd stories are beautiful and engaging, while offering an insight into the lives and mind of others, with a touch of the unspoken, and certainly one of lasting impression.