By Melanie Yarbrough
Short stories: I can't get enough of them. Last year, I won a copy of Robin Black's collection of stories, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This from Fiction Writers Review, and it is one of the best collections that I haven't paid for. There are ten stories in this collection, six of which I absolutely loved. This is one of those collections where the title story is definitely the strongest and most haunting. Black's narrator in "If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This" elicits empathy without pity, anger without self-righteousness.
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black
Like I said, six of these stories I absolutely loved. The other four, however, I felt lacked the rich characters in the other stories. Where structure and experimentation took precedence to character, I felt a little lost and unsatisfied by the end. Luckily, the ratio is 6:4, so I'd say it's a win.
Black does not hesitate to experiment, to tell the stories from many different angles, with many different voices. Some of these fall flat, while others fill up to their potential and carried me along to the end of the story when I realized I hadn't breathed since I started. In those, Black's style is strong, melancholic, and self-aware. She stares unflinchingly at the world and tells us exactly what she sees.
I enjoyed the collection as a whole, despite my affinity for some stories over others. The stronger stories, namely the title story, kept me going and satisfied even when Black's structure or prose fell flat. The best part about short story collections is the ability to move on when one's not particularly working for you, and Black's collection is no different. The stories that worked for me were definitely worth the ones that didn't.
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