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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Half as Happy - Gregory Spatz



Release Date - April 2013

Gregory Spatz
Engine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Half as Happy is a collection of short stories from Gregory Spatz. There are eight stories in all, and each is as mesmerizing as the next.

1. Any Landlord's Dream is about a couple who are grieving the loss of their infant son. They decide to rent a one-story home that's been vacant for quite some time. That new home may be what it takes for them to overcome their loss and find solace in each other once again.

2. Happy for You starts with a mother being woken up by her adult son's phone call. He needs her Easter recipes. That starts her down a path remembering the highs and lows of her life.

3. A man's lost everything close to him in No Kind of Music. First, his mother died. Next, it was his father-in-law, which was shortly followed by his wife leaving him for another man. It's his passion for classical music that seems to keep him going.

4. Luck finds Herb Zackowsky and his wife taking an Alaskan cruise. It's there that he spies a man he cannot believe is on the same ship.

5. The Bowmaker's Cats shares the tale about a local bowmaker, proud owner of cats, that no one has ever seen. Soon, the bowmaker disappears too leaving those who buy his bows to wonder what happened.

6. In A Bear for Trying Karl wants to stand out from his twin brother, but they share a connection that only twins can understand.

7. Half as Happy involves a man who is becoming increasingly frustrated by his wife's extreme weight loss.

8. Finally, String tells the tale of boys whose mothers are sisters. Their father fled when he learned he'd impregnated both women. Thes boys push their luck when they pull a prank that goes horribly wrong.

Each story in Half as Happy is to be savored. The writing is descriptive and creates strong imagery. The characters, all with flaws, come to life on the pages. There isn't one story that stands out over another, all have appeal. It's simply a stunning read that is easily broken into sessions over a span of days or read all at once. When you're done, most of the stories stick in your head and have you eager to talk about them with others. That makes this an excellent choice for online discussion groups and library reading clubs.

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