Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Sadness of Beautiful Things by Simon Van Booy

[...] Every heart had belonged to someone, somewhere. 

Lenny had seen films about it, but there were those who were actually present, those whose cries tore the air, whose bones are in earth, turning every thousand years. Those whose lives we still touch through the sadness of beautiful things. 

p. 142

A young family's house burns and they have no insurance, but an anonymous neighbor mysteriously offers to replace it. A man becomes almost paralyzed with depression but when he's reminded of a special memento, he realizes he must fulfill a childhood dream. When a boxer is mugged, it becomes a surprising opportunity to help turn the mugger's life around. In The Sadness of Beautiful Things, the contrast between tragedy and beauty is illuminated in simple, gorgeous prose.

I always take longer than I want to to review Simon Van Booy's new books because I have to read them two or three times, before I can write about them. The first time I just soak up the beauty of his words. The second time, I let myself mark favorite passages. If there's a third time, it's usually just because I can't bear to put the book on the shelf, yet, and want to experience the stories one last time. And, then, of course I return to his books when I need to immerse myself in something wondrous. Once again, the pattern held and I read the new book twice.

The Sadness of Beautiful Things is a collection of short stories (one of which may come close to being novella length, although I can't say for sure) that are written in his typical prose: few words, but with impact and a unique rhythm that is quickly recognizable if you've read any of his previous books. From the title, you can tell that each of the stories delves into real life, the highs and lows, how things can be both beautiful and horrible at the same time, like snow falling on an accident site. Most of the stories in The Sadness of Beautiful Things are based on true stories that were told to the author.

Highly recommended - As usual, I have some particular favorites, but I always fall in love with Simon Van Booy's short stories and The Sadness of Beautiful Things is yet another wonderful volume that I'll place on the good shelves and return to many times.

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  1. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book repeatedly. That’s a lot of love. I’ll have to check this author out.

    1. I sometimes think I would like to immediately reread a book, but I think Simon's books are the only ones I've absolutely felt like I can't talk about them till I've read them at least twice. Yes, you really must check him out!


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