Daniel Griffin, Stopping for Strangers

I'm coming late to the party, as usual; that's true of most parties, when I manage even to attend in the first place, which isn't often, but never mind that now.

When Daniel Griffin's Stopping for Strangers came out in 2012, it got all kinds of positive attention, and after he came along to our book club, I can confirm that Griffin's both an excellent stylist and a decent guy. A sampling of positive reviews:
The thing is … I don't like the book as much as I want to. So, yeah, those other positive reviews are meant as deflectors. Sue me.

Ordinarily I'd try not to be defensive about this, different strokes etc., but then the reliably smart blog Pickle Me This talked some smack about those who don't like the book, calling Griffin's "the kind of stories that will annoy people who think that they don't like short stories. Those readers who want to know what happens next, who require certain closure, who like a beginning, middle and end."

Kerry Clare's a voice for good in publishing terms, and a wise reviewer, so I'm sure she meant nothing like what I took from this comment, which is that Griffin's stories could only be disliked by mouth-breathing  readers of (shudder) non-fiction, by the unhelpfully young or infirm, or by … well, who are these hypothetical Miss Prisms, anyway?

Not that I have a sound critique of the book handy.

Courtesy of the wise Frog and the Wellblog (and book!)
When I was at an environmental humanities conference recently in Seattle, a scientist was asked what humanists do, and he paused before replying: "You are the penguins who pick up the pebble, and consider it, and put it down, and stand there. And pick up the pebble, and consider it." (Brilliant image, curse Julia Parrish for reframing my whole worldview and self-image so casually!) This time around, I know that I haven't picked up the pebble often enough, but I'm trying to be okay with that. There are, after all, so damned many pebbles.

Stopping for Strangers is a collection of excellent Carver-esque stories, possibly excellently Carver-esque stories, and if that's your bag, you'll enjoy them.

But they're not my bag, they never have been, and except when provoked, I'm usually content with the idea that I have unexplicated preferences. Rather than explicating them here today, though, I'm just going to stay cranky.

So there.


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