Looking Back by Jay Finn

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FinnLookingBackWhy I Read It: The author’s website was interesting, so I thought his writing would be too.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy story and human connection through memory sharing might enjoy this.

Publisher: Jason Finnerty (2011)

Length: 17 pages

Looking Back is composed of two short stories, The Girl in the Blue Dress and The Presence of Nothing. In these two stories, Jay Finn tells his tales through memories of the main character. Perhaps these are even the author’s memories fictionalized, I am not sure. In terms of craft, each of these stories is well devised, have a lead in that captures the audience, a meaningful middle, and an ending that ties the story closed. With that said, I personally enjoyed The Presence of Nothing quite a bit more than The Girl in the Blue Dress.

In The Girl in the Blue Dress, much of the tale is about Katie as seen through her boyfriend’s eyes. The reader is introduced to the two characters when they are still school kids picking fights with each other, and then later as they move to dating, and finally as they enter an adult relationship. The bulk of the tale mulls over whether their decision to have an abortion was right or not. The tale was saturated with the feelings of guilt and shame (about the sex, pregnancy, and abortion), which made it a rather depressing piece. While truthful to some people’s natures, I still found the tale a bit dull; it held no magic for me.

In The Presence of Nothing, a man relives his memories of his grandfather as the elderly man lays dying. The story starts with the narrator as a small child enjoying the night sky with a telescope while his grandfather smokes. The title of the piece and the significance of silence in their relationship clicks into place as the old man takes his last breath. This tale was intense for all its brevity and held some magic and a bit of a riddle for me. Definitely worth my time.

What I Liked: Easy to read; both stories had good pacing; the second captured a sense of wonder at life and connection with another human.

What I Disliked: The first story was rather dull and depressing and I am not really into shame and guilt over sex which seemed to permeate the tale.

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