The basics: Inside Madeleine includes eight short stories and the titular novella.
My thoughts: When I read Bomer's first collection of stories, I said, "When I do enjoy short stories, I like a boldness of story telling: use the medium for its benefits. Bomer did not disappoint." Yet Inside Madeleine is even more bold than Baby & Other Stories. I even think it's more bold than Nine Months. Bomer has emerged as one of my favorite writers this summer, and I'm surprised to say I enjoy her short fiction as much, if not more than, her novel. She's an astonishingly brave writer.
I thoroughly enjoyed each of the stories in this collection, but "Inside Madeleine" really takes this collection to another level. We meet Madeleine as a child, and the novella covers most of her life, obviously with some parts receiving more attention than others. It's at times shocking, sad, and heart-wrenching, and heartwarming. But, like all of Bomer's stories, it's always authentic. She has a gift for writing gritty tales of young girls and women, and if the collection has a single theme, it's that. For once, the themes weren't what kept me eagerly turning pages in a short story collection. Bomer's writing and her characters shine throughout this collection. They are fully alive, honest, and true.
The verdict: There's not a bad story in this collection. While there isn't a single theme to unify the collection, several themes run through its stories. Bomer writers about young girls and women, growing up in the 1980's to the present. They live in the Midwest (Bomer is from South Bend, Indiana), Boston, and New York (where Bomer now lives.) They do not shy away from bad decisions, many involving men and drugs. There's a rawness to both Bomer's writing and her characters. The titular novella that ends this collection is a literary tour de force. It packs as much punch as a full-length novel, and it's one I won't soon forget.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 241 pages
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Inside Madeleine from Amazon (Kindle edition.)
Want more? Visit Paula Bomer's website.
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