Middle Men: Stories by Jim Gavin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This set of short stories took me completely by surprise, and Gavin's writing totally swept me off my feet. I got caught up in the first story of the basketball hopeful, and it wasn't hard to keep going after that.
There is such a strong sense of place, which is evident in everything from the long freeway drives to the frequency that his characters go to Del Taco. Is Del Taco a SoCal thing? Anyway, the writing powerfully conveys certain emotions in each story, which highlight the middle-ness of the character's situations. Some are in the middle of grief, denial, mediocrity, but all are so in the middle. It's really brilliant--the truly strong sense of middle-ness that the stories convey.
The writing was powerful in its simplicity. You can feel so much meaning in the little details- from the gimp mask in "Illuminati" to the lizard at the bottom of the pool in "Costello". Once you start feeling this . . . it's no wonder that Jim Gavin is a fabulous writer. All these little details build up to convey those emotions and poignant moments in the glimpse we get of the character's life. Understated is the perfect word to describe this feeling. Understated but overwhelming and incredibly sympathetic, is what you can feel from reading this. I also particularly relished the snap with which each story ended. I don't read this kind of fiction often, but now he has me completely sold on it.