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Why They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo

Friday, February 19, 2016
A “darkly beautiful” collection “suffused with astonishing wit and tenderness” (Jenny Offill, New York Times bestselling author of Dept. of Speculation). From the celebrated author of Who I Was Supposed to Be comes twelve beautiful short stories celebrating the everyday truths of people facing unusual or challenging situations…often of their own making.

In Why They Run the Way They Do, critically acclaimed author Susan Perabo illustrates the triumphs and tragedies of daily life. Perfectly distilled into moments of sharp humor and poignancy, her latest collection features ordinary people in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. Two young students try their hand at blackmail upon learning an illicit secret; a woman grapples with feelings of betrayal after discovering her spinster sister’s pregnancy test; the ghost of a couple’s past comes back to haunt them in the form of their toddler’s stuffed toy.

Weaving the banal and bizarre together, “Perabo’s clear, wry sentences meld a prose style that's reminiscent of Raymond Carver’s with a sensibility that's informed by People” (The New York Times). Here, this “literary talent” (The Boston Globe) captures the human condition through struggles that are quiet and grand; dark and provocative. Brilliantly crafted, Why They Run the Way They Do is ultimately an homage to the philosophy that life without humor is no life at all.

Goodreads Summary

A wise president once said (and I paraphrase) that if we could all kick the person who causes us the most trouble in life none of us could sit for a month (Theodore Roosevelt).  This collection of stories provides for laughter and reticent agreement of that quote.  Many of the stories were touching and will remain with me for a long time (particularly the one involving brain cancer).  The stories contain life's little ironies and idiosyncrasies.  The characters could be your friend, family member, or work acquaintance.  Susan Perabo has a way of fully connecting with the reader during the short stories and making it difficult to set the book down.  These stories seem very realistic and the scope could fit into our own lives.  

Some of the stories have "good" endings and others end in ways that are sad, but poignant.  I liked some of the characters and others I did not connect with as much, but I still realized their relevance to everyday living.  The small quirks and twists in these short stories (some of which are so short you might read them twice!) will keep the reader intrigued.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars  

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