Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee
I read the reviews on this before buying, because I had never heard of the author before. It was critically acclaimed, as far as I could tell, so I made a decision.
I bought it.
I read it.
I have mixed feelings about it.
Each sentence is a tight little lyrical package, beautifully crafted and impactful. The stories are packed full of complex and fully wrought characters, wrestling with themselves and uncomfortable situations. Every story is written from the first person perspective. The narrators are unreliable, real, and complicated. I felt like I was being dropped into the mind of each narrator as I read their stories, and this gave each one a kind of dream-like quality that generally occurs with the kind of stream-of-consciousness style this collection exudes.
The way Lee portrays relationships is perhaps what made this collection for me. They are realistically human, heartbreakingly fragile constructs, in various states of disarray. Still, I did not care for the title story. “Bobcat” felt rushed and uncertain, ending with a dissatisfying fizzle. Not that any of the stories end in a traditionally satisfying way, where all the loose ends are tied up and everything is happy. But the first story just felt like it was trying too hard to join the metaphorical and literal into one neat picture. It felt off. Fortunately, the others were better. In fact, it was like each was a step up in quality from the last.
The ending story, “Settlers,” is built on the examination of close friendships and infidelity in marriage, as is the first story, but the latter gripped me in a way the former could not.
My personal favorites were “The Banks of the Vistula” and “Fialta.”
Finally, these stories are longish for today’s attention span, but they read easily, and are broken into digestible snapshots. The material is also very cerebral, can be interpreted in several ways, and challenges the reader to actively participate by reading between the lines and considering possible conclusions. Every story is open-ended.
If you decide to pick this up, enjoy reading! Let me know what you thought if you already read it.