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The View from the Lane: Stories by…

The View from the Lane: Stories

by Deborah-Anne Tunney

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Recently added bybucketofrhymes, icolford, Imane.



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The View from the Lane is a vivid, beautifully-written look at one woman's life, told though a series of linked short stories.

I'm sometimes reluctant to read short story collections because they can feel so abrupt -- you get attached to one character only to switch to a new one a handful of pages later. That doesn't happen here, however, where all of the story's in some way related to the main character, Amy's life. She provides a strong sense of continuity running through the stories.

However, in doing so, this collection of short stories risks monotony -- a series of events concerning one character with no overall plot, climax, or drive. Fortunately, the View from the Lane avoids this too through varying the point of view. Yes, all of stories relate to Amy in some way... but the narrator changes. At one point, even a family dog tells a story, and it becomes one of the most touching and memorable moments in the collection.

And all of that combines to make a beautiful portrait of a woman's life and family through the years. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
Deborah-Anne Tunney’s engaging and thoroughly enjoyable story collection, The View from the Lane, is a book that treats time in a fluid manner, looking both forward and backward, drawing the reader irresistibly into a world of memory and nostalgia. The volume consists of nineteen closely linked stories and can be read as such: each story a separate, intimate drama. But taken together and read in sequence, Tunney’s stories coalesce to build narrative momentum in the manner of a loosely structured novel. The stories focus on the Howard family of Ottawa, whom we first meet in 1920, the last year that the nine surviving Howard children (the firstborn having died of scarlet fever at the age of six) lived together in the house on Nelson Street. However, the book’s central presence is Amy—daughter of June, youngest of the four Howard sisters—who, in the book’s brief “Overture,” set in 1956, is four years old. The stories are told from a variety of narrative perspectives and range more or less across the ninety years of Amy’s mother’s life, from her childhood to her death in an assisted-living facility. Along the way we spend time with each of the Howard sisters as they grow into young women, marry, have children, get divorced or become widowed, and mature into old age. As we progress through the collection, this generation recedes into the background and Amy’s generation steps forward onto centre stage. Amy herself grows up, marries, has a son, and divorces. These are stories that make subtle and poignant drama out of the stuff of ordinary life--some might say "mundane"-- with all the joy and sorrow and triumph and tragedy that living in the real world entails. This would be reason enough to seek out this book. However, Deborah-Anne Tunney is not just a skilled storyteller. She is a careful and observant writer. Her precise and restrained prose, exquisitely crafted, is a joy to read. This is fiction bursting with vividly imagined and evocative detail that brings to life on the page the middle decades of the previous century, as well as our contemporary world. Tunney’s characters are fully individualized, their interactions and dramas small and large entirely convincing. “The Wedding” is a particular standout, a story that takes place in front of the church as the guests and wedding party await the arrival of the bride. The story gathers together an ensemble of characters from several generations and shifts its focus seamlessly from one to the other, each taking his or her turn providing the voice of the narrative. In the process we observe them observing each other and see revealed their hopes and desires, their fears and disappointments and petty jealousies. In some respects The View from the Lane is a modest book. It does not pretend to be about anything more than the lives of some very ordinary people. But there is nothing modest about the accomplishment it represents. This is a fine book by a talented writer and well worth seeking out. Highly recommended. ( )
  icolford | May 31, 2015 |
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