“”Girl,” my mama had said to me the minute she entered my hospital room, “on the highway of life, you’re always traveling left of center.” (from “Traveling Left of Center)” What happens when people face life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared? They may choose to allow fate to dictate the path they take-a decision that can lead to disastrous results. The characters in “Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories” are unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, relying instead on coping methods that range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”). But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?
Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review
I think the thing I love most about short stories is the fact that they can have the power to move you, and that you can get so caught up in a character and their lives in such a short amount of time. There is a skill in creating a story that is capable of this and Christie does just that.
With her collection of stories, Christie demonstrates the consequences and reactions of people who are faced with situations and circumstances for which they are not mentally or emotionally prepared for. Through 18 captivating and unique short stories, Christie explores the way in which each of these characters responds to the pressure placed upon them and she does so with variety, style, creativity, and poignancy.
What makes these stories great to read is the diversity Christie includes; not only in how each character responds to these pressures, but the circumstances and types of scenarios in which they appear. There is also an air of dark humour, despair, and hopelessness for Christie’s characters. They express feelings of human experience and emotion well and show that there are numerous ways one can be trapped in their own life, bound by forces conscious, physical, or otherwise.
Each one of Christie’s stories has a character with a voice and a story that is unique and fascinating. She uses her characters nicely and makes them shown us their stories and with just a few lines, words, and actions, demonstrating who they are extremely well and capturing the despair, the loss, and the frustration in their situations. The use of voice is so well done and with the style and tone varying from story to story each one manages to pull you into their world immediately and understand who they are.
What I liked about some of these characters is that they give the impression that are in control, or that they know what they are doing, but it is clear that this isn’t the case. The stories are full of people who seem to be lost, insecure, and lacking confidence and conviction, looking for something they can’t find or are unaware they’ve even lost. They seem trapped by circumstance and the lies they tell themselves, convincing themselves and others they are in control when in fact they are simple consciously or unconsciously ignoring the problems with themselves or their situation.
This is a collection you definitely cannot stop reading. The pace is fast but engaging, and you never know what a story will bring nor how it will end up. Christie captivates you with characters and stories from the very first page and you get drawn in the lives of each character so completely and so quickly it is wonderful.
You can purchase Traveling Left of Center
and Other Stories via the following