Whatever Happens is a collection of stories for people who feel that reality is not the best deal going. Tim Conley explores the fragility of our perceptions as well as the illusions that we so badly need. Sometimes spare, these nineteen stories move between the obsessive and the disinterested, the extraordinary and the humdrum.
In "Means to an End," a man who has not quite come to the end of his rope meets a woman who wants to borrow it; in "Constellation," an unforeseen meteorite destroys an astrologists' convention; a taciturn botanist confronts his unfaithful wife in "The Greenhouse Effect"; and in "Last One In," an argument about which man has the better sense of hearing ends in disaster.
Influenced by -- but expanding upon -- the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Raymond Queneau, and the European avant-garde, Conley's work combines realism with metaphysical concerns to create a comedic, yet always striking, first collection of fictions.
This debut collection of 19 very short stories combines keenly observed real situations with fantastic and at times surreal touches. Conley veers from neighbors politely fencing verbally over the rope they each intend to hang themselves with, to four guys going to a bar in the company of a talking dog, and over to the dream of an unhappily married painter. Through all of the shenanigans, Conley stays focused on the emotional truths that run through even the shaggiest of his shaggy (or talking) dog stories. Highlights include "Good Faith" (featuring "the usual people... Grant and Yellow and myself"), "Checking" (where a birdbath delicately evokes a brother's drowning) and the touching dinner table exchanges of "A Country Called Roughage." Lovely small perceptions of character balance the funhouse quality of stories, in which women literally fly away and Bellini's Norma is held to be "the greatest opera for the lost." Some of the stories read as mere absurdist sketches or roughed-out concepts, but they come off as earnest experimentation rather than cloying whimsy. The easy intimacy Conley wrests from bewildering situations is marvelous. (Oct.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
September 30, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.