Connell, Terry. “A Little Chatter”, Terry Connell, 2019.
I must admit that I am not much of a short story reader and I have never understood why. I suppose that I prefer to be engaged with plot and characters for longer periods of time. Yet, every once in a while, I come across a collection of stories in which each one pulls me in and doesn’t let me know and this was the case with Terry Connell’s “A Little Chatter”. Each story totally stands alone with unique characters and plot yet they are all tied together by the familiarity we find in them. After all, do we not all challenge the way things are.
Rather than go story by story, I prefer here to take the collection as whole and reflect on it. We live in an age where everyone wants to write a book and so we are often bombarded with mediocre literature that really does not speak to us. From the moment I read the first story, “Good-Bye Willow Grove” and on through the last story. “Silver Lake”, I identified with what I read. We look to our pasts and reflect on the errors we have made and we form judgements. I find here that it is much easier and certainty more circumspect to read what others have done and measure the way I am affected. Terry Connell grabs us early and does something really unique— each of the twelve stories has something personal to say. This is really special since each story is so different.
“Each story had a unique voice and took me someplace different and interesting.” I laughed and I wept, I smiled and I grimaced. More than that, I realized how affected we are by the little chatter that everyone seems to engage in when thinking about others. Rereading this I see that I have really not said anything about the contents of the collection and that is deliberate. Too often reviews give away too much and thereby spoil the surprises that await the reader. I do not want that to happen here and have therefore remained generic. Instead, I am looking at the way Connell sets up his plots and introduces his characters. “A Little Chatter” is something of a master class in how to construct stories that are meant to be shared.