Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Happened Here: A Novella and Stories by Bonnie ZoBell… A Review

So often we pass up collections of short stories because short stories aren't something we normally read. In order for a short story to "work", it has to be crisp and clean, a start and a finish that tells us a story, captures us and releases us in pages rather than chapters. That is what Bonnie ZoBell does with What Happened Here: A Novella & Stories. Bonnie does more than that though with this collection, this group of 10 short stories and 1 novella are linked by a tragic piece of real-estate … the area of San Diego called North Park.

In 1978 a tragedy happened in an area of San Diego called North Park. A passenger plane crashed in this neighborhood killing everyone on board and spreading unforgettable debris all over. Bonnie ZoBell takes this neighborhood and uses it as her backdrop for the novella and 10 short stories of What Happened Here. And these stories work. Each one takes on a life of their own, the characters owning the pages and letting us experience life after tragedy. Even though the stories are not about the crash per say, it seems as though the crash has a place in them. It's almost as though the crash reverberates years later, an underlying current in other stories. The first story in the collection is a novella, that captures the characters in a kind of remembrance, years later, of that crash in '78 that happened in their neighborhood. And the stories jump off from that starting point- North Park. But all the rest of the stories seem to be dealing with their own choices and tragedies almost as though the 1978 left an imprint that couldn't be shaked..Such as "Dear Sam", where Edgar writes a letter to Sam because he would understand his feelings because he experienced "the crash", or a free living Uncle, who tempts his prim and proper niece to abandoned her cookie cutter life to experience life (because you only live once). Or, my favorite story about spunky eighty-year-old Lucinda, who finds love and passion again after so many years and still wears her slippers to bingo.

Good stories that are powerful and readable. Great writing, interesting characters and a worthy collection of short stories that encourage the understanding of a full range of human emotions and experiences. Definitely a keeper and I have to thank the publisher for providing a copy of What Happened Here : A Novella and Stories by Bonnie ZoBell for my reading pleasure and a review!

I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys reading short stories, especially ones that put you in the center of real life with characters that make real life decisions. They are thought-provoking, wonderful interconnected stories. And it's not all grim here, especially eighty-year old Lucinda who I still smile about when I think of her.

You can pick up your own copy of What Happened Here by Bonnie ZoBell at your local bookstore. OR, You can get either the paperback version of Bonnie's book or the Kindle version right now at Amazon for the bargain price of $2.50! Here are the links for the paperback and Kindle Book .




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