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Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fiction Award) Paperback – October 1, 2011
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“Josh Rolnick is a wonderful observer and a beautiful storyteller. Each story in Pulp and Paper is a path to the hearts of Rolnick’s characters, who, like you and me, strive to be their true, honest selves despite follies and weaknesses. A truly compassionate collection.”—Yiyun Li
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Top Customer Reviews
Four stories are set in New Jersey: "Funnyboy" begins with an attention-grabbing sentence -- "I glanced out the window as my train pulled into the station and saw the girl who killed my son" -- before exploring the issues of guilt and responsibility surrounding a young boy's accidental death, a loss his father cannot accept. Loss is also at the heart of "Innkeeping," a story written from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old whose father has died and whose mother is struggling to keep their inn afloat. The first sentence -- "I wasn't looking for a new father when Tweedy walked into the bar" -- foreshadows the rest of the story.
"The Herald" is both a tribute to the old fashioned art of newspaper reporting and a personal story of a reporter on a sleepy beat who works against deadline to write an exclusive story about the fate of a missing woman. He implores his managing editor to publish the scoop, but is the story accurate? "Mainlanders" is about two boys from a small barrier island and their tongue-tied amazement that two flirtatious mainland girls visiting the beach are actually willing to talk to them. The boys learn how difficult it is to build a bridge between different worlds.
Four stories take place in (mostly upstate) New York. My favorite story in the collection, "Pulp and Paper," tells of a train crash at a paper plant and what rural neighbors will (or won't) do for each other in a time of disaster. The strain on a relationship caused by an unplanned pregnancy is at the heart of "Big River.Read more ›
The Good: I think it takes a talented writer to write short stories that not only have tightly woven plots but characters with depth and a story to tell. I know short stories are a hard sell for me usually because I love to become invested in the story and the characters and obviously I don't get that as much with a short story. This collection of stories however are at times so well written, I am actually angry when I come to the end because I want more. Pulp and Paper is split into two sections... 4 stories in the New Jersey section and 4 stories in the New York section. I personally, thought the New Jersey stories were better. I found Rolnick's ability to make his characters resonate with the readers very impressive and I really enjoyed this collection of short stories!
The Bad: There were a couple of stories that hindered on being boring and this was one of the times I was glad I was reading a book of short stories because I knew that I had other stories to look forward to.
Overall this was a well written and interesting book of short stories and I would recommend it for a quick and brief look at the author, Josh Rolnick. I would definitely be willing to read anything this author puts out. I give this book a B+.
**I received this book free from the publisher through [...]. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a compelling debut collection of short stories, carefully and meticulously rendered. While each story is different, each share some common threads. Read morePublished on December 15, 2011 by Susan G. Ratner
Josh Rolnick's characters are all wonderfully believable and honest engaged in slices of life that we can all relate and enjoy. He is a splendid writer. Read morePublished on November 22, 2011 by Ashram
I have read many books of short stories over many years -- I thought this one was excellent through and through. Read morePublished on September 25, 2011 by Linda Perlis