Gloria Kurian Broder’s fiction has been compared to Chekhov’s and Cheever’s and, after reading this collection of short stories, I can easily see why.
Though all the stories are excellently written and spark with originality and human insight, several truly stand out. In “Elena, Unfaithful,” which was anthologized in Great American Love Stories, a man who has been unfaithful to his wife for decades is unable to cope with her sudden death and falls in a state of denial by “believing” she has left him for another man. Told with dark humor and keen yet gentle perception, this story evokes melancholy and sadness and makes you wonder about the fatalism of life.
In “Careers and Marriages” a woman desperate for freedom is in for a big surprise when her four children finally leave her. The tragic irony lies in the inability of the character to realize what she’s done. In “The Intruder,” a moving, totally engrossing story sure to bring tears to many readers, a woman tries to cope with her son’s death and is eventually able to find hope in the most unexpected way. In “The Insult,” a man’s life turns upside down momentarily when he believes someone in his town has insulted him, until his young son, with much simplicity and grace, “solves” the mystery. In “The Thursday Men’s Club” the author offers us a glimpse into the grim reality of old age. Set in a home for the elderly, this is an unforgettable story of alienation and loneliness.
Beautiful prose combines with a simple and unembellished style to create snapshots of life so real and powerful as to be unforgettable. The magic and gift of Broder lies in what she doesn’t write, in what she merely suggests and leaves to the reader to imagine. Her writing is one of those perfect examples of “show, don’t tell.” Sometimes funny, sometimes grim, but always memorable, Broder’s stories sparkle like newly polished gems.