Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Appearances and Other Short Stories by Margo Krasne


Appearances and Other Short Stories
by Margo Krasne
Publisher: Wasteland Press, October 23, 2012
160 pages

In Appearances and Other Short Stories, Margo Krasne has explored the dynamics of relationships between lovers, between parent and child, between siblings and with wry humor has plumbed the depths of the deceptions we perpetrate upon each other and upon ourselves as we struggle to maintain appearances in the face of the heavy weight of the real and perceived judgment of others while simultaneously imposing such judgement upon them and upon ourselves.

Part One reads almost like a novel with the series of stories following the Wallachs family from the latter years of WWII into the last decade of the century through the eyes of Alice the youngest of three.  Though with twelve years separating her from her brother, the second born, she was the only child still at home well before she entered kindergarten.  Each of these stories can stand alone but taken as a whole they create a hall of mirrors as revelation after revelation of family secrets, hidden agendas and wounded psyches reflect back onto each other revealing how unreliable is perception and thus, ironically, how futile those efforts we invest in appearance.

Part Two is comprised of three independent short stories which have in common with each other and with the stories in Part One the setting of the Jewish communities of New York, the dynamics of relationship, the role of image in creating our perceptions of reality, the evolving status of women along with the evolution of their perception.  But above all else the common thread is loss, including the deaths of loved ones, the loss of innocence, of youth, of dignity and of the crumbling of those carefully crafted masks in which we make our appearances in public, in relationship and in the depths of our own psyche.

From the Publisher:

In this debut collection, Krasne wields insightful irony and cathartic black humor to illuminate her themes of loss, yearning and survival, bringing to it a biting female perspective. An adept stylist with an ear for dialogue and an eye for personal foibles, Krasne cleverly captures the distinct voices of her characters as they strive to negotiate the subtle and not-so-subtle minefields of family obligation and personal conflict. She has a knack for getting inside her characters' heads as they strive to keep up appearances. Readers will most surely recognize themselves, their friends and family members in all of these beautifully rendered stories.

What they are saying:


"Margo Krasne's collection of short stories ("Appearances") cuts right to the core of love, loss, disappointment and survival. Reading this book will be a cathartic experience for anyone who has had those less-than-perfect-but-oh-so-real family relationships. My own childhood could not have been more different than the Wallachs (an Upper West and later Upper East Side New York Jewish family) - but the emotions are so true and so piercing that I felt every single one. A truly magnificent collection." Jeff Johnson, author of 'Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You To Know'
"Margo Krasne's premiere short story collection, "Appearances", is not to be missed. Krasne invites her readers to step inside the minds & hearts of her characters, resulting in a truthful, proactive, and emotional journey in each of her beautifully crafted stories. The stories will remain with readers long after they put "Appearances" down- each story is nothing `short' of magnificent and illustrate female 'appearances' with real honesty. "Appearances" is truly a phenomenal accomplishment of shorts that leave readers hoping Krasne will soon release her next body of work!" Hillary Megroz's, Goodreads Reviewer
"Margo Krasne's first published collection of short stories is a gem. Full of irony, black humor and snappy dialogue, Krasne draws readers into her world and invites them to stay a while as her characters negotiate the subtle and not-so-subtle minefields of family obligations, relationships and personal conflicts." J. Z. McBride, Amazon.com Reviewer
"I really loved these stories, a lot of humour and emotion. I enjoyed all of them and would like to read more written by this author." Dorothy Greenberg, Amazon.com Reviewer


Margo Krasne, born and raised in Manhattan, has always led two lives. As a radio advertising producer, she sculpted; as a sculptor, she was an extra in commercials, and for the past 24 years, as a communications coach and author of Say it with Confidence, she writes fiction whenever possible.


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