By Linda Braus
Who among us has heard that the Midwest is boring? I’d never utter such a falsehood. And neither would anyone who has read Kim Suhr’s collection of unsettling and expository short stories.
Indeed, these stories are all about your next-door neighbors with the nice yards and the shine of the happily middle class, your local overworked nurse and loving mother, your local spinster (the one you’d never call “yours”– you’d rather ignore her, and you do). These stories are also about the secrets they keep: the easy promiscuity between them, what they’d do to protect those they love, the assumptions they hold close and what happens when they realize they are wrong.
Kim Suhr opens impressive one-way windows to look at the lives and the inner psyche of some of the people you walk by in the grocery store, casting light on their often dark and jagged thoughts and intentions. It’s a maddening reading experience, in a way– looking at these people, recognizing them, expecting them to resolve their thoughts and actions in a satisfying, easy way… and watching them fail to do it the way you might expect.
Somewhere along the way, you might find that the window obscures. The light shines in such a way that the window becomes a mirror. In one of the shameless (whether courageously or brashly so) or frightening or awkward expressions you watch the character make as they take a drink or tell the truth (or don’t)… you might just see yourself.
There’s no denying the power of that insight– or the stories that brought you there.
Linda Braus is a Midwestern expat living in Brooklyn, NY. When there is not a pandemic going on, she works in academic book publishing in lower Manhattan. When there is a pandemic going on, she works in academic book publishing on her local sofa. Regardless of the world’s general chaos level, she loves to drink coffee, smith words, and pet dogs. She is on Twitter sometimes, @lindabraus