"Here Comes Another Lesson" by Stephen O'Connor is a particularly cold collection of stories. You might want to read them by a cheery fire this fall with a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. You can take a sip and warm your toes while O'Connor chills your soul with his crisp and imaginative stories that far too often may bring to mind thoughts of yourself or your life.
Oh, and then sporadically you'll hit a crazy story about the adventures of a Professor of Atheism. He's quite a fellow.
Now, let's talk books of stories. The challenge of reading through a whole book of stories is always that they give you place after place to put the book down and not pick it up again. While reading "Here Comes Another Lesson," I found myself charmed by O'Connor's imagination and insight, and therefore driven to keep reading to see what he would come with next to cast his strange eye on. My favorites - and when I say "favorites" in this context I mean they made my soul cry - were "White Fire," "Love," and "Aunt Julie."
But I hesitate to even call out favorites, it must be admitted, because as I flip through the book to remind myself about each story I keep thinking, Oh, Yeah, That was a good one. Or, That was clever. A couple of them, namely "Disappearance and, " and "Man in the Moon," even feel like some of my favorite classic science-fiction stories. There's even one, "Based on a True Story," about actors that feels rather Charlie Kaufman-esque. There's even a painfully funny zombie tale, "I Think I'm Happier." It's quite a collection is what I'm saying.
Here's the official words:
STEPHEN O'CONNOR IS ONE OF TODAY'S MOST GIFTED AND ORIGINAL WRITERS. In "Here Comes Another Lesson," O'Connor, whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, and many other places, fearlessly depicts a world that no longer quite makes sense. Ranging from the wildly inventive to the vividly realistic, these brilliant stories offer tender portraits of idealists who cannot live according to their own ideals and of lovers baffled by the realities of love.
The story lines are unforgettable: A son is followed home from work by his dead father. God instructs a professor of atheism to disseminate updated Commandments. The Minotaur is awakened to his own humanity by the computer-game-playing "new girl" who has been brought to him for supper. A recently returned veteran longs for the utterly ordinary life he led as a husband and father before being sent to Iraq. An ornithologist, forewarned by a cormorant of the exact minute of his death, struggles to remain alert to beauty and joy.
As playful as it is lyrical, "Here Comes Another Lesson" celebrates human hopefulness and laments a sane and gentle world that cannot exist.
Ending book reviews is challenging. For me, "Hey, I liked it!" always seems a little obvious. So instead I'll share something I've realized about reading in the past few years. I love when I'm reading a book and I start to think about exactly who I'm going to pass it to next. "Here Comes Another Lesson" is definitely one of those.
Please note that I received the book reviewed above for free from the author for my honest review, and I won't be sending it back.