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Mind and Body: And Other Stories by Lucas…
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Mind and Body: And Other Stories

by Lucas Carpenter

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I just wrote a long review for this book and accidentally deleted it so I will try and recap as much of it
as I can. I was thrilled to get a collection of short fiction from the Early Reviewers group because this
is my favourite genre. I liked most of the stories in the collection, my favourite being the story of the soldier stationed in Vietnam. But after that when the stories deal with the professor at some small
college, I started to feel the author was repeating himself too many times. Too many of the stories were
about weird sexual experiences and the use of drugs. Once was ok, but story after story was just too much. The story that takes place in Amsterdam, apart from the surprise robbery at the end, was my
least favourite. a tale about a bunch of bored lazy artists/academic whining-why should I care? They were
so desolute and dull. And I could barely read the final story, again about strang sex and drugs..it was too
much of the same thing over and over again. The story of the English professor who is a woman started out strong but the denouement to the story seemed so impractical and silly that I had to dismiss the whole thing. The short story is my most favourite genre but I found there was too much repetitiveness in this story and the details started to disinterest me fairly quickly. I found it interesting to see how the
recurring character changes through the course of the book, but his interests remain the same.
One other thing I found very strange about the book was the author's obsession with gay people. In many
of the stories he singles out gay people, and he often represents them in a cliché manner. It almost becomes an obsession for the author and at one point one of the characters says, You think I'm gay
don't you? I don't get it and I thought-author get with the program, you are sounding like an old man.
A mixed bag of stories which increasingly lost my interest as it progressed. But I'm grateful to have
been given a book of stories to read. ( )
  alans | Sep 8, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mind and Body is a series of short stories by Lucas Carpenter, a Professor of English at Oxford College, Emory University and an expert on subjects such as the poet, John Gould Fletcher. Here he writes fiction in the form of a series of short stories, largely based around appearances of a central character called Paul Rutledge. Indeed, I wonder if all the stories orbit around this central protagonist, with the earlier ones describing episodes in the lives of his forebears?

I would characterise all the stories as sharing one virtue and one flaw. The virtue is the writing. Without showing off, all of the stories are well-written, enticing to read without feeling dumbed down to mere pablum. However the flaw could also be characterised as a feature of the writing; all of them end inconclusively. The stories each have a beginning, a middle and... oh, here's the next story. While Rutledge features in most of them, he is not always at the centre and even his own stories lack clear conclusions.

Possibly this is a deliberate conceit but, even if there is a second volume in the works, I would have been grateful if at least the final story landed gracefully rather than crashing to an end as if the author realised he had churned out enough words to meet his targets. Fascinating stories but lacking - and deserving - proper endings so only a muted acclamation from this corner. ( )
  wulf | Aug 20, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a collection of short stories. I received this book from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program in return for a review. The first three stories possess their own appeal; there is not much of a link to what follows. But starting with PERIMETER look for the linking devices of Stafford College and a character name Rutledge. It will be fun.

SWING TIME

A story set in a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp just prior to WWII as the camps were being closed down. With preparations for war, and thus full employment, the program was not needed. This camp was located in Georgia. The main theme of the story is the power of music to bring Blacks and Whites together inside the camp in the face of an exterior environment which vigorously enforced separation of races. A look at two specific individual outcomes in this story reveals a very sad outcome for music.

MY MOTHER IN HISTORY

A story of a WWII survivor. “My mother” never appears in the story by name. Her history was one of survival from a Soviet regime so terrible that she welcomed the Nazi forces as liberators. They were a step up, as were the American forces who took over her captivity later. After marrying a US soldier, she moved to the US and lived the life of a wife to a civil servant. She raised her children and in her old age paid for them to Accompany her on a return trip to the Ukraine to look for surviving relatives. From this visit, she could conclude that, yes, you can go home again, but why would you want to? This is a horrifying depiction of what a survivor must do to live.

LIQUOR LAWS

A nostalgic look at the evolution of liquor laws in Charleston, South Carolina. From the late 1800s to the present, changes in laws relating to the availability of alcohol followed changes in society. This is a very interesting look on the effects alcohol had on societal change and vice versa.

PERIMETER

Vietnam War Vet Bullshit story alert. This is a great story. I have never seen the life for those at Long Binh and Bien Hoa, Vietnam expressed so accurately. The life of a REMF exposed. So much for personal notes as to why the story is good. For Rutledge, he knew that his experience in war did not really count. He had never participated in any event that tested his bravery. Without this last, final experience on guard duty, he would never really know the experience of having been to war.

IN THE ARTIST COLONY

To appreciate this story, the reader should know the term “performance art.” The Poet is caught in a dead end job and a dead-end marriage. After winning a chance to join an artist colony for a month where he might sit, reflect, and write, the poet takes up residence at the colony and begins to evaluate other artists in residence. Maybe there will be poetic prompts. Then he meets Shari Spector. Is she an artist? She claims to be. But the owner and manager of the art colony gives the Poet information to the contrary. The Poet feels betrayed. Shari maintains that she is an artist of reinvention. Readers are left to form their own opinion.

IT COULD HAPPEN THAT WAY

This is about a poet’s rebirth. It could almost be thought of as a poet overcoming writer’s block, but Esther didn’t really have writer’s block. She just didn’t know if she had anything to say, until she went to a party and met Melody. Her new-found realizations, developed while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, would probably have to be defended on Monday morning when she returned to work. But she could do that.

BOUNCING OFF AMSTERDAM

As an expatriate, I like to travel alone. I absorb experiences and I don’t feel a responsibility to share or explain new experiences with others. This is a story, and a warning, to and for people like me. Jason is out there, Jason the predator. Trust to third parties should not be conferred lightly.

MIND AND BODY

This is an unconventional tale of the struggle for job security in academia. Or it might be a conventional tale. We again meet Rutledge, of Vietnam War fame, as he more or less defends himself of charges of sexual harassment, the kind of stuff that may or may not occur between professor and student. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Jul 23, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An interesting set of stories that covers several years and topics. It was interesting to see how they evolved over time and to get a taste of the history within. ( )
  polarmath | Jul 19, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Well-written stories that tend to be interlinked via characters. Interesting enough as I was reading them, although a few seemed to be missing something. The biggest gripe is that most of the stories cover a well-worn territory: a white male, baby boomer, academic has sexual entanglements and is affected by drugs and Vietnam. So interesting stories, but not bringing too much new to the table. ( )
  smcgurr | Jul 13, 2016 |
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