By: Zac Soper, Columnist
Helen Oyeyemi is reviving short story collections as a mass-consumed work. With her collection “what is not yours is not yours” hitting shelves in major bookstores around the country, Oyeyemi has reached a wide audience and has everyday people talking about short stories again.
An example of its circulation is seen in YouTube videos like those of Monica Kim. Kim creates videos all about her journey as a reader, and she promoted this collection on her channel reaching more than 21,000 subscribers. Kim is the reason I picked this collection up, and I know I am not alone.
Though this collection of stories is more mature in content and in level of syntax, it is still enjoyable. There are many sections of the stories that I find confusing, but that is not from the language, but rather the mysterious nature of the plot that is supposed to be there. At nine stories and 352 pages, even if I dislike one story, it doesn’t take much time to get through. Or I can just skip it entirely. The magic of short story collections is that you can read them in whatever order you want. You can even set the book down for a year and pick it back up, and not have to worry about remembering plot points.
This collection has similar images of keys in each story and there could somehow be some arguable plot overlapping, but it is not as if each story cannot stand alone.
Because each story is different, it is hard to type a summary of this collection. The best way I have seen it phrased is by Goodreads reviewer Nenia Campbell.
“Each character is seeking something that may be beyond their reach,” Campbell said.
I know that doesn’t really explain what this book is about, but every story in this collection is character driven, and every character has desires what they cannot necessarily meet.
These stories take place in a world very similar to ours, but there is a subtle hint of magic that is never questioned. There are some minor moments of the supernatural that may actually be happening or may be part of some literary device too high for my level of reading comprehension, either way the stories are enjoyable.
My only real issue with reading this collection was the amount of characters. Because each story is short, you only see the characters for a small amount of time. Oyeyemi, however, sort of bombards the reader with a whole lot of character introductions within the first few paragraphs of each section and by the time I get the hang of who is who, the story is almost over.
The collection of stories less than 100 pages was satisfying. I got the prideful feeling of finishing a book in a matter of less than two hours. If you’re looking to get back into reading, or only have a little bit of free time to read, I recommend picking up a short story collection even if it isn’t this one. It was significantly easier to read and digest this story with the busy schedule of a college student and I will surely be reading more collections and bring you more recommendations in the future.