Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Muscle Cars by Stephen G. Eoannou

Muscle Cars by Stephen G. Eoannou
Published by sfwp ISBN 9781939650221
Trade paperback, 244 pages, $15

I have a husband and two adult sons, and so when I have an opportunity to read a book that gives the male perspective I like to take it. Stephen G. Eoannou's new short story collection, Muscle Cars features stories about men in all stages of life, from young boys to young adults, middle-aged men to older men in all their complicated situations and feelings.

Many of the eighteen stories in this collection were previously published elsewhere. In short stories, the author has to capture the reader's attention quickly and successfully establish characters in just a few sentences. Every word must count for something if a story is to work.

Eoannou does a terrific job creating memorable characters, especially in the stories that are more than a few pages. The title story Muscle Cars sets an emotional tone for the book. Tom's wife asks him to please go talk to the young neighbor who spends all night partying loudly with his friends and keeping her awake. The young neighbor lost his mom last year and soon we see what he and Tom have in common.

The way men bear responsibilities in silence, rarely sharing their feelings are highlighted in Welcome Home Xmas 1945. A man is going through his father's personal effects following his father's death. He finds a photo of his father as a young man with a beautiful woman, along with an engagement ring. As he tracks down the story of this photo, he discovers the biggest disappointment of his father's life and the unwitting role he played in it. It is heart-wrenching and enlightening.

The Wolf Boy of Forest Lane is one of my favorites as well A young male teacher is doing his best to reach his students, and when he discovers that one of the students is obsessed with the story of a young boy who was lost on a school field trip to a local cemetery, he decides that he can use that to engage the class. It is a story of good intentions gone awry, a theme that resonates through many of these stories.

Since it is opening week of baseball season, I must mention Stealing Ted William's Head. Two almost thirty-year-old men decide that is a good idea to drive all the way from the east coast to Arizona to steal the frozen head of deceased Boston Red Sox slugger and bury it in Fenway Park to bring good luck to the Red Sox. One is a new father with a colicky baby wreaking havoc on he and his wife's life, and the other guy is the one who won't grow up.

I grew up in Central New York, and many of these stories have references that I am familiar with, like  the name Genesee, Utica Club beer, Friday night fish fry, and fried balogna sandwiches. One rang strange to me, calling apartments "flats" (that is more of a British term).

If you want to learn what is going on in the male of the species' head, reading Muscle Cars will give you great insight and empathy. There are some of the usual suspects here- violence, men and their crazy plans, and Peter Pan Won't Grow Up Syndrome- but Eoannou has a refreshing and empathetic take on them that will engage any reader.

rating 4 of 5

Thanks to Poetic Book Tours for putting me on Stephen O. Eoannou's tour. The rest of the stops are here:
April 7: bookchickdi (review)
April 14: Everything Distils Into Reading (Author Guest Post)
April 20: Svetlana’s Reads and Views (review)
April: 21: Everything Distils Into Reading (review)
April 23:  Emma Eden Ramos (review)
April 25: Bell, Book & Candle (review)
April 28: Savvy Verse & Wit (interview)

1 comment:

  1. Diane: I am so glad that you enjoyed the collection. I was intrigued by the setting and the subject matter of this one. It's rare that you find a short story collection of all male perspectives.

    Thanks so much for being part of the Muscle Cars tour with Poetic Book Tours.