Forgetting English is a slim volume of haunting short stories. These are stories of loss, of deep emotion, and of women trying to find their way forward. The language is lyrical — poetic in places — and the stories were lovely to read. Author Midge Raymond provides a very short but entertaining collection.
“The lanterns bob gently as they drift out to sea, some extinguished by waves or by the splash of other lanterns swimming past. Paige sees shapes of light hovering above the water — probably the mist in the air, or the effects of Abbey’s hash, or of the tears that suddenly rise in her eyes — but she stands still and watches for a long time, until the lights and voices fade away.”
My favorite of the stories is “The Rest of the World,” perhaps because it’s about a businesswoman on the road, a situation I am pretty familiar with. There is a definite feeling of disconnectedness when you’re on the road, especially in a strange country. Our traveler is in Taipei, dealing with unpleasant business while she deals with a crisis in her marriage. In her first hotel room, a man has left a message on the voicemail for another woman about a dinner date — and our businesswoman meets him instead. I love that idea, even if it’s something I’d probably never do. Through years of business travel, our traveler — whose name we never learn — has lost her connection to her husband, but maybe she is finally making a connection to herself.
“I’m not sure why I hope Kyle will call, except that I long for the familiarity of his voice. It reminds me that I’m still anchored to the world, a feeling I tend to lose when I travel, a feeling I’ve lost almost completely since losing him. I’m away six months out of a year, and when I’m home, I’m usually gearing up for another trip or coming down from one.”
This is not a long book — only 10 stories, less than 150 pages — which made it a quick read. The problem I had with it is that the stories are very much alike. The similar themes and mood, as well as Raymond’s style of storytelling, sometimes made the book feel like one long story. The writing is excellent and I was easily caught up in the stories. I hope that she expands on her themes and adds some additional stories. I would gladly read more from this author.
For more about Midge Raymond and her writing, check out her website.
My copy of Forgetting English was a review copy provided free of charge by the author.