Title: A Leap
Author: Anna Enquist
Number of Pages: 100
Publisher: The Toby Press
Date of Publication: April 1, 2009
3 stars: Okay, but not for me
This book of short stories is by Dutch author Anna Enquist. I had never heard of her, but the blurb says she is a “musician, a psychoanalyst, a poet, and a novelist” and also a best-selling author in other countries…. so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with picking up this book.
First off, the book is only 100 pages. This is something that is displayed on the product page, but I rarely pay attention to… I expect that many other customers may do the same, so therefore this is a warning that the book is short- something I was disappointed with. Also, the ‘monologues’ just weren’t very connected in my opinion. I thought these monologues would all be related, or have some interaction with each other, but this is not the case. The summary says they are connected in that they are all looking for a home, but I just didn’t get that either. There are five of these short stories, the first and last being the longest and in my opinion it is those two which are most connected. Music is the common theme. Of these, I really only enjoyed the last one.
The stories start with “Alma” followed by “Mendel Bronstein,” “Cato and Leendert,” “The Doctor,” and “… And I am Sara”. “Alma” is about a woman who loves music and composing, but gives them up because her husband (a composer himself) makes her. It’s about her struggling to deal with this loss, since music is such a part of her and gives her so much joy. “Mendel Bronstein” is about a man who wants to travel to America but really has no idea what he is getting himself into. This story is quite short, and unless you read carefully, you miss what really happens at the end. “Cato and Leendert” takes place during WW2, and most interestingly deals with the animals being kept in the zoo. “The Doctor” also takes place during the same time and deals with a doctor’s mixed thoughts about helping a German soldier. Finally, “… And I am Sara” deals with a young woman trying to find herself after college.
As with most short stories, these seem to be bleak and depressing. Again, the last one (“… And I am Sara”) which I enjoyed most of, is the only one that broke of that mold for a short time. In that story I did enjoy the writing style. The sentences were short and choppy, like thoughts flitting through Sara’s (the main character) head. It really worked for Enquist there.
Enquist’s imagery was also extremely well done, in “… And I am Sara,” and in the other stories. At times it was so well done that I was disgusted, as was probably Enquist’s goal- when discussing bloody soldiers, or unwashed immigrants. Other times it gave off a peaceful and beautiful image, like when Enquist writes of spring flowers.
There’s no doubt that Enquist is a talented writer, but I felt that this collection just wasn’t perfected. I would have liked to see those stories be more connected. Perhaps something is lost in translation? After all, they were originally published in Dutch, so maybe we’re just not getting the original meaning.
Interested? Buy it at amazon: A Leap
Missed my last post? It was: REVIEW: “THE PRIVATE PAPERS OF EASTERN JEWEL” BY MAUREEN LINDLEY