Brothers, Fathers, and Other Strangers: Short Stories
By Mitchell Waldman
Release Date: September 27, 2021
Review by Thomas Page
The relationships we have with others impact us in many ways that we may not be aware of on the surface. Although most of our interactions will fade into the recesses of our subconscious, Mitchell Waldman’s Brother, Fathers, and Other Strangers is a study of these impacts through the lens of several stories focused on the relationships men have with each other.
Waldman’s short story collection can be broken down into three main narrative sections: the Martin Newman stories, the famous figures stories, and the job hunting stories. The heart of the collection are the Newman stories, which look at one man’s emotional journey with his step-father, his peers, and his ascension to adulthood through his b’nai mitzvah (such as in “The Alignment of the Planets”). The remaining stories tackle these themes through examples such as the creation of art (“Coffee at the Nirvana Cafe”) and trying to get a job in the current hiring climate (“After the Layoff”). Including the aforementioned stories, standout stories in this collection include “Another Fish Story” which appeared in Academy of Heart and Mind in 2020 and “Burning House.”
Waldman’s writing style and storytelling is evocative of the likes of Charles Bukowksi and Philip Roth. He does not pull punches in terms of his colorful diction and his narrative style. The reader gets the impression that the narrator is speaking to them directly, especially with the collection’s “main character” of Martin Newman who is defined through his nervousness. Waldman does a great job of establishing place through the way it unfolds in the story and how the characters interact within it. The reader is dropped into the New York / New England setting throughout the collection, whether it be in rivers of the mountains or the streets of the city.
Waldman’s short story collection will resonate with readers who are seeking a deep dive into how others have a massive influence on the people we are inside and out.
Waldman’s Brothers, Fathers, and Other Strangers was released by Adelaide Books on September 27, 2021. It can be found at most major retailers.
Mitchell Waldman’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Ariel Chart, Fictive Dream, The Waterhouse Review, Crack the Spine, The Houston Literary Review, The Faircloth Review, Epiphany, Wilderness House Literary Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and many other magazines and anthologies. He is also the author of the novel, A Face in the Moon, and the story collection, Petty Offenses and Crimes of the Heart (Wind Publications), and serves as Fiction Editor for Blue Lake Review. (For more info, see his website at http://mitchwaldman.homestead.com).
Thomas Page is Editor-in-Chief of Academy of the Heart and Mind. He is also an MFA student in the poetry track at the University of South Florida and has earned a BA and an MA from the Catholic University of America.