Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Familial Kindness" by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

My copy of One-Story came in the mail about a week ago.  I finally got a chance to read Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum's "Familial Kindness"

Stoic, reserved characters dominant this slow moving story of familial grief.  It's the kind of story that may strike a nerve with some and may strike annoyance with others, depending on how the reader perceives the range of emotional depth the story explores.

There is a sense of emotional containment carried throughout the plot, one that is both heavy like an anchor and undefinable.  Alma and her brother-in-law Charlie are both in search of letting that heaviness go and finding meaning beyond their loss.  The story ends with a sense of the beginning of a long process of moving forward with their lives, a moment defined by how their familiar relationship with each other has changed.

In the end I loved the pace of the story and where it carried me emotionally.  Coming from a partial Scandinavian background, I appreciated the emotional complexity of these characters. There is a lot omitted that I'm able to fill in with my own personal experience, and that really created a fulfilling read for me.  I'm typically not a big fan of stories that simmer, but this one grabbed me and held on.

If you're already a fan of Alice Munro, you'll like what this story has to offer.

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