In his first short story collection, Christopher Meeks uses effective prose to provide us with a variety of emotions and real life situations in compact form. Each story gets its own few pages to shine and again delivers a singular emotion or effect, almost effortlessly evoking emotions in the reader. According to the back of the book, many of these stories have been published elsewhere before, and I’m not surprised.
I was really pleased to discover that Meeks is proficient at one of my absolute favorite story techniques, what I generally call the slow reveal; it’s when you go along and at first everything seems perfectly normal, slowly gets worse until you realize what must have gone wrong, but it doesn’t hit you until it hits the character and delivers a great climax. “He’s Home” shows off this particular type of story-telling.
My favorite, however, would be a contest between the title story, “The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea”, and another later on, “Engaging Ben”. It’s hard to describe short stories effectively for me; I think it’s best going into them blind. I can say that the first involves a surprise and deals an emotional blow to the reader (and to the characters), while the second involves a couple struggling nearly as soon as they get engaged. Both of these stories engaged me emotionally and I really connected with them and felt for the characters involved, even though I’d known them for only a few pages.
I’d absolutely recommend this book. All of these stories are terrific and I’m looking forward to more work from Christopher Meeks! Buy this book on Amazon.