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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea by Christopher Meeks

Christopher Meeks is a master of capturing moments. The thirteen stories that comprise the collection The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea are all brief but none feel too brief. They feel instead like moments from the lives of real people, people who are interesting, wondering, fearful and trying to get along in this world. I believed and enjoyed each of these tales.

The moments described in these tales are pivot points in the characters lives but Meeks' real talent is in reminding the reader of the wonder contained in even the simplest of situations, the most seemingly mundane circumstances. Some of these moments are dark, others funny, many are wise, all are true. This is the highest work of fiction and Meeks prose makes the telling seem effortless. In the moment, the reader is captured by the story.

If I had to pick favorites from this collection I'd be hard pressed to come up with a list less than thirteen stories long, but the wryly titled story, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea", the third tale in this volume, was the one that moved me from being a reader to being that guy who walks up to random strangers and says "Have you read Christopher Meeks? You should.  He's very, very good!" Meeks' story "He's Home" is wonderfully scary while his lesson called "The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating" is warm, witty and wise. "Engaging Ben" is, well, a very engaging story, one that reminded me of some of the best writing of T.C. Boyle. The story "Nike Had Nothing to Do With It" is one of the saddest little stories I've ever loved.

Meeks has a second collection of stories called Months and Seasons which I was delighted to add to my Kindle. And I'm delighted to find that Mr. Meeks has some novels out in the world as well. The Brightest Moon of the Century, Love at Absolute Zero, and Blood Drama all await me. I'm a lucky man.

The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea is a great set of short stories. I'd never heard of Christopher Meeks until I read this collection and now I'm a huge fan. I'm still going up to people and saying "Have you read Christopher Meeks? You should. He's very, very good!"

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