Winner of the 2006 Family Circle Magazine short fiction contest, Melanie Haney's debut collection of stories includes her award winning works, "The Simplest of Acts" and "Only in Bellington" along with other carefully wrought stories of loss, love and the often small but cathartic moments in our ordinary lives.
"Melanie's beautiful metaphors and richness of language captivated me from the very first word." - Jodi Picoult
For more information about the author: http://www.melaniehaney.com
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By LK Gardner-Griffie
Oct 15, 2009
"Love, Loss, Hope: The Moments of Our Lives - Part I" The Simplest of Acts: And Other Stories is a short collection of short stories. In only 102 pages, Melanie Haney manages to take us into the hearts and lives of eleven separate individuals. My hat is off to anyone who can write a short story, because as hard as I try, I am never able to limit myself to telling just a snippet of the story. Haney not only masters the short story format, but she also spins a tale rich with emotion which gives you a glimpse into another's soul during those quiet moments in life. In The Simplest of Acts: And Other Stories, the story themes are primarily about loss and grief, however, there are moments of hope shining through. Life as seen through vignettes, Haney take you into the mind of her character, shows you what you need to see and feel, and then is off to the next story. This is one of the few books that I have re-read before writing the review. I read it through the first time with... More > complete enjoyment of the mastery of Melanie Haney's craft, and then read it the second time through with an eye as to what to highlight for a review. Haney has a very strong voice which she uses in each of the pieces of first person, stream of consciousness style. She also picks those quiet moments in life, not the big parties or events, but the mother sitting at the side of her daughter's hospital bed, waiting for the inevitable; the yearning to leave the small town life and see the world; the death of a cat; the loss of mind and more. While I enjoyed every story in the book, I will only highlight a few of the stories which are my favorites. Haney opens the book with An Ordinary Evening, in which a mother is struggling to have an ordinary evening away from the hospital. Her daughter has been in a tragic accident and is a mere shell, and exceptionally unlikely to recover. We pick the story up at the point where the mother has maintained a vigil at the daughter's bedside for months, only leaving to see a therapist at periodic intervals. The therapist is recommending Claire spend a normal evening at home, cook herself dinner, sleep in her own bed. In addition to this, Claire's ex-husband wants her to consider pulling the plug because their daughter deserves to be put to rest. “I wake up alone in the bed we once shared, but didn't last night. I muse for a moment how the conversation will go with Dr. Tanner. Will his calm and concerned expression hold steady, when I tell him our experiment in ordinary nearly ended with me sleeping with my ex-husband on the living room floor.”< Less
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