Who I Was Supposed to Be: Short Stories

Off the Bookshelf

Who I Was Supposed to Be:

Short Stories

by Susan Perabo

Simon & Schuster, 192 pp., $20

If you were a fiction writer, wouldn't you want your strongest material at the front of a collection of short stories? Ill-considered inclusion of weak stories is only one of the problems with Susan Perabo's Who I Was Supposed to Be. The main trouble is that most of Perabo's work here feels as though it were inspired by a list of journal prompts in some creative writing book (which it probably was, since she teaches creative writing). "Explaining Death to the Dog" is a startling example. The opening sentence of this story goes, "After the baby died, I found it imperative that my German shepherd Stu understand and accept the concept of death." Get it? The bereaved mother has detached from her loss. But Perabo never succeeds in taking us where that numbed-out person really is; she only informs us she exists. Telling your readers something, instead of showing them -- don't creative writing teachers bust you for that?

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Who I Was Supposed to Be: Short Stories, Susan Perabo

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