Title: Pivot Points
Author: T. R. Connolly
Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction
This collection of twelve stories offers readers a fairly broad spectrum of characters and settings, allowing readers to experience places from New York City, St. Joseph, Missouri, Coamo, Puerto Rico, and Recife, Brazil.
Most of the stories have a strong urban flavor, even if they’re more “small town” than big city, and likewise, the characters also vary. Some are young, others older, dying or even dead, but what ties these stories together is the agency represented by the group.
Despite the differences in backgrounds, gender, and age, these aren’t primarily people who sit by and let life happen. They are faced with a moment that has or will change their life, and they generally do something about it, even if they don’t realize how significant their choices could turn out to be.
The narration style is relatively unaltered throughout the book, though the length and nature of the stories are far from homogenous. Some stories have a complete, satisfying ending while others bring one to the brink of great change and leave you hanging, wondering what will become of these people in the moments or days or years after the close of the story.
And a few of the stories reference the same characters, acting as a sort of prequel or sampler for the author’s novella, Orphan, which seems to tell these characters’ stories in greater depth. Still, each short story can be read in stand-alone fashion, though a few of them might leave readers with more questions than answers.
Similarly, there are some stories and characters that felt a bit less-developed than the longer ones or those tied to the novella. The narrative of the last story, which switches from first person diary entries to third person commentary, was a bit challenging to follow, and some terms throughout the book didn’t make sense in the context.
The collection is most interested in relationships—in what brings people together or tears them apart, what binds them and draws them to each other—and in this department, the stories shine. Every character has something that matters to him, a relationship she wants or needs or cares about, and you get to know these people through their interactions and decisions.
The stories are very immediate and realistic, full of strong, fairly diverse characters. Save for a few similar names or the stories from the novella, each cast is different in morality, background, and personality, and the dialogue and attitudes are their own. The pacing varies, from quick and ominous to slow and thoughtful, and while many characters are Catholic, there are also criminals and a few morally apathetic attitudes in the mix as well.
Ultimately, Pivot Points is a celebration of life in the Americas, from big cities to small towns, from islands to the urban “jungles.” Its tales were quick, poignant, and interesting, revealing characterization through speech and action without belabored description, exposition, or details, and its tone is optimistic yet believable. The collection will providing perfect light reading for those who enjoy contemporary and literary fiction.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.