And Also Sharks

And Also Sharks

Stories

Book - 2011
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The forlornly funny stories in And Also Sharks celebrate the socially awkward, the insecure, the unfulfilled, and the obsessed.

A disgruntled follower of a self-esteem blog posts a rambling critical comment. On the hunt for the perfect coffee table, a pregnant woman and her husband stop to visit his terminally ill ex-wife. The office cat lady reluctantly joins her fellow employees' crusade to cheer up their dying co-worker. A man grieving his wife's miscarriages follows his deluded friend on a stealth photo-taking mission at the auto show. A shoplifter creates her own narrative with stolen anecdotes and a kidnapped baby.

In this collection, society's misfits and losers are portrayed sympathetically, and sometimes even heroically. As desperately as these characters long to fit in, they also take pride in what sets them apart.

Publisher: Toronto : Cormorant Books, c2011.
ISBN: 9781770860032
1770860037
Characteristics: 236 p. ;,21 cm.

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quagga
Aug 03, 2012

A deftly funny take on modern urban life. Westhead's stories feature awkward characters who are often oblivious to their own social shortcomings.

c
cmwallsm
Mar 19, 2012

The quality of Westhead's writing is undeniable but I can't say that I really enjoyed this book of stories. Generally, I found the so-called "quirkiness" of these misfit characters annoying and/or embarrassing. I didn't like the feeling I got while reading this one (though admittedly I think this was the author's plan). Nevertheless, Westhead did a good job.

ksoles Dec 30, 2011

Although the stories in "And Also Sharks" initially seem tediously realistic and even plain, they each contain a catch that appears at an unexpected moment. Such surprises jar the off-guard reader and become awkward circumstances in the lives of blundering characters. But this tactic doesn't render the collection frustrating; rather, Jessica Westhead's characterization and style compel the reader. The author tells her stories through mixed perspectives and a tone that varies from contemplative to playful, all the while maintaining a sense of ease.

Westhead constantly confronts the reader not with the absence of choice but with the reasoning on which we make choices disappear. Her stories thus seem both comical and haunting as they are accompanied by the recognition of doom. Ultimately, "And Also Sharks" paints a vivid picture of characters emptied of moral force in the face of the knowledge that what they feel as meaningful might just be fabricated and senseless.

So what's the moral? Nothing, really, which is hardly accidental on the author's part.

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