Gathered Here Together
Garrett Socol. Ampersand Books, $15 paperback (230p) ISBN 9780984102570
In his biting and humorous short story collection Gathered Here Together, Garrett Socol marries the tragic with the comedic by twisting his characters, who all happen to be in the midst of their respective catastrophes, into off-kilter spotlights that often double as funhouse mirrors. There’s a wonderfully warped yet entirely honest portrayal of the human condition on display here, and Socol is a fine craftsman who knows how to play on the emotions of his readers. Whether pitting funeral mourners against each other with wicked (and often hysterical) back and forth banter in the title story Gathered Here Together and also The Mourners Wore Magenta, or focusing on a community’s practical though perhaps unorthodox rebuilding efforts following a tornado in Architectural Digestion, Socol easily earns our trust with his control and wit. Beneath the sometimes over-the-top zaniness, there’s a real heart to these stories, a real truth. In Fame & Madness in America, the final story of the collection that has been expanded into a novel of the same name, Socol paints a fierce and unnervingly accurate picture of America’s obsession with violence and notoriety as family members, ex-classmates, and pure whack jobs chase the media blitz surrounding one woman who murders her husband. This darkly entertaining collection is sure to please readers who like a little death, betrayal, and surprise in their fiction. (Dec.5th, 2011)
Purchase Gathered Here Together HERE.
Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at melbosworth.com