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By a Frozen River: The Short Stories of Norman Levine

james hörner

just thinking about this book makes me feel rejuvinated, excited to read it again.

By a Frozen River book cover I feel as though I could end my review here. Partly because I feel it should impress upon you the greatness of this collection, and partly because I want to do exaclty what I said - read this book again.

Ashamedly, I'm a newcomer to the works of Norman Levine. In some ways, though, this is what made the work all the more surprising and delightful. After wading through so much crap it is an ecstatic moment to find yourself excited about literature again. Levine's short stories were the surprise I've been waiting some months for.

These stories are reminiscent of other ex-patriots, documenting the poverty of the writing life and the curiosity of new places. Levine tells us stories about dragging a family through the process of writing, its selfish demands. We read the fruit of this way of life, and learn from it.

The single most stunning factor about Levine's writing is the honesty. Are these stories completely autobiographical? While there are different characters, they are all clearly part of a continuing narrative. One assumes that if this work isn't completely autobiographical, it is very close to being so.

I want to write about all of these stories, describing to you their details and beauty. For the sake of brevity I cannot go there, will not begin to delve into the minutiae of these character's lives and experiences.

There are 27 stories here, tracing a history of self, a record of being. We watch our narrators age, absorb their reflections on a shifting world, and embrace their memories. By a Frozen River is a collection we can learn from.

published by key porter books
ISBN 0-88619-403-2

james hörner edits canadian content

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