CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{November 25, 2006}   Book Review: Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories

signed.jpgNot since Raymond Carver has anyone cast a more unsparing eye on American mores than Larry Gross does in this very accessible collection of short fiction.

His characters smoke too much, drink too much, have meaningless sex, and stumble into blunders that are sometimes atrocious. And the reader keeps turning the pages, riveted to these stories like they are wrecks on the highway.

Gross, who writes for CityBeat, sets most of these stories in and around Cincinnati and has the ability to set a scene with a minimum of brush strokes. When his narrator sits in a seedy bar in Covington, Kentucky, recalling the time his wife caught him in a cheap motel with an over-the-hill stripper; Gross doesn’t waste any wordage describing the humiliation. “I put out my cigarette forcefully, hoping that would also crush out the memory…”

Enough said.

A young writer could learn loads from these stories. Things like economy and how less is often much, much more. Gross has the courage to let his narrators be not only deeply flawed but even despicable at times. And he has the mature insight to know when to allow the reader to fill in the artfully positioned void.

These stories are smart, not only for the words that are there, but for the words that aren’t.

D.B. Wells

D.B. Wells is the author of Your Lolita, a collection of short stories. Her first novel, The Terrestrial Paradise will be released this spring.


Karen says:

A wonderful read indeed 🙂

Charlene says:

I bought your book a couple months ago from Amazon. Some of the stories I really liked, but more than a few were simply too dark for me. Sorry.

C.A. MacConnell says:

I agree w/ the “less is more” comment. I am always learning
from that, for sure. I can get lost in too many words sometimes
in my own writing. It’s harder than it looks to
tell a good, straight story. A lot of craft in that.
Wasn’t too dark for me. I liked the Hurricane Cafe one…that stuck in my mind, and put me back there…I’ve been there too, and would like to go back, b/c when I was there years ago, I was wasted. Oops, did I say that.

Jeff says:

I also found some of the stories – actually most of the stories – a bit dark but those are the kind of stories I like.

And I think Ms. Wells is right when she compares Gross to Raymond Carver who also knew that less is sometimes better than more.

Marilyn says:

Dark is the stuff of truth.

I’ve read this book straight through, twice. I go back and re-read stories now and then. This is the kind of read that grabs me.

My favorite line? From False Impressions:

“It would be a lie, but maybe he could turn it into the truth if she believed him.”

Jim says:

“Candles on the Cake” is the best in the lot – just outstanding.

Charlie says:

I was out and about today and decided to pick this book up – found it at Joseph Beth. I’ve read the first couple, liking it so far!

Maria says:

I bought a copy over at Sitwell’s where Larry was doing a reading and signing. I don’t think there’s one story that I don’t like. I can’t wait for the next one.

Shelly says:

I like Gross’s column and this blog just fine but not so much his book of stories. Just too dark and depressing for me.

Stacy says:

I think D.B. Well is great. I remember that long interview with Larry in the column and after reading it, decided to buy her book of stories and also Larry’s. Both really good.

numb says:

i know the book sucks and i haven’t even read it.

Donna says:

I really enjoyed the book 🙂

LOL Girl says:

I enjoy Larry 🙂

Joy says:

If you enjoy dark stories, you should buy this book. I’ve read it twice now and still go back and read my favorites. Candles on the Cake is the best one …just outstanding.

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