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Short Stories 365/359 | N.S. Beranek

“Repossession” by Jonathan Harper from Daydreamers (Lethe Press, 2015).

This collection will be released in March. I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher.

I didn’t realize, exactly one hundred reviews ago, when I looked at one of the stories in this collection as part of another one, that the author had a definitive style. I knew that his insights into the human condition struck a chord; I knew that I very much enjoyed reading his story. I thought, though, that what he’d written had to be a fraction of a larger work. Having now read eight more of his stories, I see it’s just how he works.

Works for me.

Randal hasn’t managed to turn any of the connections he’s made in New York into anything resembling a career, and he’s twenty-seven; his days of being seen as young and full of promise are numbered. His modus operandi thus far has been to return to Fayetteville and his older brother Tom’s couch whenever the money runs out. He works as a repo man for awhile, saving up the cash he needs to fund his continued search for himself. But this time when he returns home he gets a nasty surprise: his brother has a girlfriend and a baby on the way. Tom’s transitioning to another phase of adult life, one that can no longer accommodate his fledgling brother. Randal finds himself being shoved from the nest.

There are some great characters in this story. I especially liked Winston, the aging hippie/repo man. As you might imagine, he’s deeply conflicted. I also liked the salty, mysterious, one-eyed girlfriend, Amber. My inclination is to say I want more of this story; I want to know what happens next. But that’s not the way this author works. These are stories that open up little spaces in your soul, unsettle you, and make you ponder them for hours, or even days. It’s really very nice.