This Is Not a Love Song

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I wrote about this collection on my blog and will provide details to the publisher in the next step of this process.
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Book Review: This Is Not A Love Song
Author: Brendan Mathews
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Review Date, February 2, 2019

From the Amazon blurb:
“A debut collection of moving and darkly witty stories from an "admirably fearless" (New York Times Book Review) writer whom critics have compared to Michael Chabon, E.L. Doctorow, and Dennis Lehane.

When marriages, friendships, and families come undone, to what lengths do we go to keep it all together? That question lies at the heart of Brendan Mathews's buoyant and unforgettable debut story collection.”

Little, Brown and Company has published a number of debut books of short stories that have absolutely blown me away, including this most recent collection. 

These stories are very short. Almost like vignettes. They have usually just two characters per story, sometimes a few more. They get to the heart of each personal relationship. Each of the 10 stories is a raw, intense look at what is happening at the core of these situations and relationships. 

The writing is phenomenal. Beautiful images, beautiful sentences. Taut short story structure. Tight, perfect plot. I found each story to be a masterpiece. 

Little, Brown and Company finds the most extraordinary debut short story collections to publish. I give this book 5+ stars, highly, highly recommended. 

If you like to read exceptional short stories, you must read this book. 

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for an early look at this outstanding debut collection of short stories. 

This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. 

#netgalley #thisisnotalovesong #littlebrownandcompany
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This Is Not A Love Song is a short story collection with an overall feeling of unhappy/ unsure endings, which I very much liked. It contains stories ranging from a dad and his sons going for a round of golf, the life and death of a front woman for a band, to a man who accidentally sets a church on fire. Some stories I got on with, others not as much but what I did find with all the stories was that I had to keep reading the stories to find out how it ends!
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First of all thanks to NetGalley and Brendan for the ARC. When marriages, friendships, and families come undone, to what lengths do we go to keep it all together? That question lies at the heart of Brendan Mathews's buoyant and unforgettable debut story collection.
I adore short stories. They are always handy and almost never a waste of words.Brendan Matthews hit a home run for me. Each story is one I was connected with the characters. I did not want the last story to be the end. 
I HIGHLY recommend This Is Not a Love Song.
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Last year I enjoyed reading Brendan Mathew's first novel The World of Tomorrow. Reading his first collection of stories This is Not a Love Song brought me a new appreciation of Mathews. If World was a fun romp into the past with an action ending, the short stories are an examination of the human experience on a deeper level. I was moved, I related, and I was entertained.

There are stories about we believe we know--about love and family and life--but discover aren't true. Stories about coming to terms with life, or not coming to terms. 

The first story, Heroes of the Revolution, was also one of my favorites. An American female college student is responsible for providing visiting foreign journalists with typical American experiences. She takes them to pick apples, but walking through the orchard stirs memories, revealing the student's sheltered life while the journalists grapple with the lasting damage of the atrocities they personally lived through.

This is Not a Love Song questions the nature of art and friendship as one woman pursues a music career while her friend captures her life on film.

I loved Airborne, the story of how having a child transformed a couple's life and relationship, the crazy obsession over a child's safety, which in the story goes to an extreme, but which I well remember with the birth of my only child. 

How Long Does the First Part Last? is about unrequited love.

Dunn & Sons is "the story my father never tells;" three generations of men share stories that connect them and those that split them, and the stories that "might save us" if "ever told the right way." 

Look at Everything is an amazing story about a photography student who by accident causes a fire and responds by taking photographs instead of reporting it.

The Drive takes an ironic peek behind the ubiquitous story of a dad taking the babysitter home.

Henry and his Brother speaks to the bonds of fraternal love and a mutual need that transcends family ties.

In Salvage, a man working in the shady business of removing architectural pieces from ruined buildings finds the item that he thinks will finally change his luck and life.

The last story, My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer, reads like a parody and comedy but feels like a tragedy involving a love triangle between a clown, a tightrope walker, and a lion tamer.

I can't wait to see what Mathews does next. 

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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I’ve always loved short stories, the ability to get through a story quickly always appealed to me. Especially now since I’ve had a stroke, being able to read longer works is hard and I can’t quite focus on them how I used to. So this was a nice break between them. They were quick to get through, but never lacked. There were some stories that kind of abruptly ended (like the first one), that left you wanting more or wondering what happened.

But the author did a good job with getting the point of each out there. To bring the first one up again, I really did enjoy the dynamic between the journalists, the confusion on the female’s part and how things could go if she’d let go of the past. Despite the abrupt ending. It made me think of how things would have been different if I were from a country where wars or fighting was prevalant. 

The book is definitely on my wishlist for February!
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