What’s These Hands all about?:
Weaving together loss and anxiety with fantastic elements and literary sleight-of-hand, Kevin Brockmeier’s richly imagined Things That Fall from the Sky views the nagging realities of the world through a hopeful lens.
In the deftly told “These Hands,” a man named Lewis recounts his time babysitting a young girl and his inconsolable sense of loss after she is wrenched away.
What did I think?:
Things That Fall from the Sky is the first collection of short stories by Kevin Brockmeier, and my first introduction to this author’s work. Our narrator for These Hands is Lewis Winters, and it is about his love for a young child called Caroline who he falls in love with whilst babysitting, a slightly difficult subject being the love of a grown man for a child and I’m not sure if it was because of this that I felt slightly uncomfortable and could not connect with the writing properly. His love for the child never really falls into the realm of the disturbing, and the writing is certainly beautiful but for some reason, it didn’t quite work for me at the time of reading it. However, I did find it interesting in the way that our narrator tells the story in the third person yet interrupts proceedings with comments in the first person and it is only whilst writing this review and re-analysing the story further that I am beginning to have a better appreciation of it.
As Lewis recounts his blissful periods with Caroline, the reader is led to realise that he is no longer her minder any more and may be led to assume the worst case scenario. One of the most fascinating parts of this story is the numerical list that Lewis makes about his time with Caroline:
“Number of days we spent together: 144. Number of days we spent apart (supposing that Archbishop James Usher of Meath, who calculated the date of the Creation at 23 October 4004 B.C. was correct): 2,195,195. Number of days since I last saw her: 43.”
And so on… (this is a rather large list!)
Yet at the end of the story, our imagined worst case scenario may only be just that… imagined, as the narrator takes it in a new direction. On reflection, I am tending to re-visit different parts of the story again, and am looking at certain things in a new light, which means I am definitely looking forward to the rest of this collection to see what else Brockmeier has up his sleeve.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: That Colour by Jon McGregor, from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.