Sometimes I need to read things that are short and relatively light or entertaining. I read a lot of poetry collections, which are usually short, but they require close, often intense reading. Or I’ll read a biography or other non-fiction work, and those, too, have to be read closely (and they are usually not short). Novels come in all sizes; some are entertaining and escapist, and others have to be read slowly. Even mysteries can be involved; I’m reading one right now that’s almost 500 pages long.
I’ve come to appreciate shorter works that offer a break from normal reading fare.
In the novella Falling for Grace by Janet Ferguson, Grace Logan works for an Atlanta lobbying firm. She’s still not over her divorce, and the hurt is magnified when she sees that her former husband has married her former best friend. Her boss sends her to Florida, to do some work but also to enjoy a little R&R at the beach. The boss’s house there is definitely not a condominium.
Next door, Seth Gibbs is getting over his own divorce that followed the death of his baby son from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. When he sees Grace slip and fall near the beach (Grace is prone to slipping and falling), he comes to the rescue. And while he’s attracted, he’s not interested in any kind of new relationship.
Soon Grace and Seth discover their mutually attracted, but there are problems, on both sides. The reader knows the story has to end well (it better had end well!), but the fun and interest in Falling for Grace is seeing how it’s going to end.
Good Deeds & Bad Intentions is a short story by Irish writer Caimh McDonnell. Set in New York City at Christmas, it’s about Bunny McGarry, a self-appointed vigilante who watches out for women who are actual and potential victims of abuse. (McGarry is also the detective in several crime novels by McDonnell.) Since it’s Christmas, he’s disguised as Santa Claus, and he’s especially interested in a woman and her young son who are the targets of the woman’s ex-husband, recently released from prison.
McGarry employs a small network or people to help him and follow both the intended victims and their would-be assailants. At times the story becomes almost a comedy with how McGarry deals with the bullies, not to mention a kind of Christmas Eve break-in at a toy store.
Jonathan Dunsky is an Israeli writer of noir mystery novels, sent in post-Independence
Tel Aviv (1948-1949) and usually featuring his private detective Adam Lapid. However, Lapid is not the protagonist of the short story The Favor. That honor belongs to Mickey, an hourly worker and former prison inmate who is still good friends with his old buddy Paul. Paul has happened to strike it rich when his software firm is bought. Despite the difference in circumstances the two still meet for drinks.
Paul’s problem is that he’s insanely jealous about his trophy wife and is convinced she’s cheating on him. Mickey devises a plan to put Paul’s wife under surveillance; the plan, however, includes targeting an innocent man as the would-be lover and then taking care of the “problem” for Paul, this earning a huge hunk of Paul’s money for the fee. Or blackmail. What could go wrong? As it turns out, plenty. And Dunsky does it with a contemporary twist.
Short reads make nice breaks.
Top photograph by Gaelle Marcel via Unsplash. Used with permission.