Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Brooks Wright
Publisher: Brooks Wright
The Sky is Far Away: Stories is a truly eclectic collection of short stories that have taken two decades, in all, to write, and which cross the generations in terms of the protagonists involved. The tales are deeply grounded in human experience and pathos, as well as in a profound desire to plumb the depths of the human psyche and soul. The author of several novels, including, most recently, Now I Say Goodbye to You and Yellow Sky, Brooks Wright has a sound grasp on the very essence of humanity, realizing that our strengths lie in our confronting, and mastering, our own vulnerabilities.
The collection is extremely moving, and has, at its central core, the willingness to be subject to, and moved by, the most deep-seated empathy. Not that Wright’s style is at all elevated in tone, but in its very down-to-earthness, and in its grasping of the significance and the underlying meaning of the everyday, he superbly crafts what might else be ordinary action into extraordinary events. The humility of his tone grabs the reader in its practicality and pragmatism, making one feel that one, too, has been in a similar situation, yet what he renders of the immediate, at times, verges on the realms of magical realism.
Wright’s ability to transcend gender boundaries empowers him to write equally well from the female perspective as from the male, an example of such being the way in which, in “Celestial Navigation,” he describes a young woman’s attempt to heal the shattered fragments of a family that is at odds with itself. Katey’s budding womanhood and innate strength and capability are succinctly and poignantly described: “Her hands gripped the sides [of a broken bowl], tenderly, as though she were holding something helpless and small.”
The cross-cultural impetus of Wright’s writing can be seen in his ability to describe the thinking of those from other cultures, which is perhaps strange to the conventional mind, such as when, in “The Spillway”, an Afghan elder intimates that President Bush provide his daughters in marriage to the members of his tribe as recompense for the accidental killing of members of his own extended family by the United States forces. The ostensibly ‘reasonable’ and seemingly rational Western mindset is pivotally poised against the patriarchal system of tradition and custom that pervades the Middle East: “I find this slightly incredulous notion a lesson in history to strengthen their bargaining position, that we expect will be followed by a more reasonable though well-deserved demonstration of outrage at what our country has done in the name of...what?”
Small wonder to find that such a writer is currently working on a memoir of his older brother, Bruce Wright, whose naked shot by the famed photographer, Diane Arbus, has gained international recognition as “A naked man being a woman.” Brooks Wright work is definitely worth exploring and discussing at some depth, both for the symbolism of its subject matter, and for the imaginative voice that it affords the marginalized and the dispossessed―that, too, is an element that he shares with Arbus.