Monday, May 19, 2008

MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER edited by Jessica Kaye and Richard J. Brewer

The Book: Jessica Kaye and Richard J. Brewer, editors; MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER: Stories Inspired by the Haunting Bruce Springsteen Song. Bloomsbury USA trade paperback original, 2005; inscribed by the editors, signed by several contributing authors.
First read: 2005
Owned since: 2005

Today is Richard Brewer's birthday, so a very happy day to him -- you can help him celebrate by buying a copy of this book!

Richard and Jessica solicited stories from 18 other authors (they contributed their own, as well), based on the classic song from Born to Run. If you don't know the song, it's a soliloquy directed to "Eddie," the singer's friend, who needs to help the singer make a deal that will put money and his pocket and show his long-suffering girlfriend, Cherry, that he's not just talking. You know, listening to the song, that it can't end well -- and in these stories, it doesn't.

The stories aren't all just imaginings of how the deal goes down, though. Steve Hamilton's "One Fast Packard" is a story of Prohibition-era smuggling; Gregg Hurwitz's "The Real Thing" is a six-page techno-thriller. My favorite story in the collection is probably Peter David's "Killing Time by the River Styx," which I can only describe as a Sopranos-style take on classic mythology.

It occurs to me, as I page through this book, that short story collections are a little like photo albums. While novels record an author's thoughts over an extended period of time, short stories show us the writer at a much more specific point in time, and only for a moment. Barbara Seranella, for example, is no longer with us -- but I can read her story again, and she's right here. I can hear her voice in the words on the page.

So thanks for that, Richard and Jessica, and many new challenges and triumphs ahead.

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