Cover Image: Splinter & Shard

Splinter & Shard

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Member Reviews

For a short stories collection that was meant to depict humanity, the characters felt very NOT human, in the sense that they felt like characters and not actual people. The themes explored were interesting, I'll give it that but in the end I didn't care much. 2 stars

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I loved these often-entwined, often-overlapping stories about the ways people adapt, embrace new opportunities or decide not to face them, grapple with a changing world, and figure out who they are. Spanning a century and a lot of Canada, Keating's stories are about the hypocrisy and cruelty of the Catholic church, desperate love, becoming independent, parenting, being the adult child of difficult parents, seeking a place to call home, and the effect of place on the psyche. The characters are memorable and true, each worth a novel of their own. Highly recommended.

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Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press For the ARC!

Short stories are such a difficult thing to evaluate—the space constraints limit artistic priorities, which makes enjoyment highly subjective. With that noted, please don’t let my critiques deter you from reading if the description of the book appeals to you.

Lulu Keating’s "Splinter & Shard" didn’t connect with me at all.

The characters feel very writerly in the sense that they could only exist in this medium. Nobody really sounds like a real person. Ideally, I think a short story should feel like you’re meeting a character for a brief moment, but I don’t believe any characters here exist beyond the few pages they fill. As a result, all the stories blend together because there aren’t distinctive motivations. It’s partially due to the galley’s formatting, I think, but there were several times where I struggled to understand when one story ended and another began.

All that said, I think it’s important to read as generously as possible, so I looked up Lulu Keating’s film work, and I think some of it is really great! She has a distinctive sensibility that I can see at play within this collection, even if it doesn’t translate terribly well for my taste. A lot of her work is in animation, and there’s such a care in the way she depicts movement. If the characters in these short stories are viewed primarily as props (I don’t mean that negatively), I think maybe the reading experience would sit better. For me, the characters might “go through the motions,” but for another reader, they may move as intentionally as they do in the author’s films.

As a final positive note, these are very geographically situated stories, and I appreciated the northern edge that they have. I’m always game for more sled dogs, and for some readers, this might be a perfect collection.

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