Having not read Patricia Abbott before, I had no idea what to expect from her short story collection, I Bring Sorrow And Other Stories of Transgression, other than its beautiful title. Many of these stories were published by websites and editors that I was familiar with, so I thought I had a good grasp of what to expect. I was delightfully mistaken.
Abbott’s stories easily move between time and setting uncannily capturing the dissatisfaction of a people. From the title of Abbott’s book, the sadness and the word choice of transgression instead of, say, crime sets the mood of the stories.
When I wrote my review of Scott Adlerberg’s Jack Waters, I shied away from comparisons to the great writers his book reminded me of, Paul Bowles and Jorge Luis Borges. I regret that decision and I won’t make it again. Reading Abbott’s I Bring Sorrow gave me the feeling of living and breathing again in an Anne Tyler novel. Like many of Tyler’s books, I Bring Sorrow is quintessentially a American book: filled with misguided expectations, failed experiences, and empty successes.
I’ve begun to up a chronicle of sorts–a record-detailing my wife’s principle deficits–which have become glaringly clear over the past month. It’s given me an unexpected thrill–laying it all out. Nothing is in plain sight though. I’m no fool. Ten things I hate about her. That sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it? So many, then why are we married? Out of habit, commitment, financial reasons, ennui? Perhaps getting it off my chest will serve as balm.
So basically begins “Ten Things I Hate About My Wife”. The mood of the Abbott’s characters is of a people not so much separated not from their feelings – feelings are found abundantly throughout – they are removed from their own lives as if there existence was of no matter to those around them. In I Bring Sorrow, Abbott’s stories grasp that Melania Trump look, the one when she is standing next to her husband, but Abbott’s voice is far more beautiful and more alive than that current picture you have in your head. Patricia Abbott’s I Bring Sorrow, besides being well-written, captures the ether-like disenchantment and weariness of a people lost.