Book Review: Going It Alone
Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha
A poetic slice-of-life story collection about loneliness, grief, and letting go
Koko Bobb’s Going It Alone is filled with beautiful prose and layered stories. It is a collection of eight short stories, each with distinct plotlines. What stays the same? The poetic writing style.
The first story, “Agnes and Tommy,” is about Agnes, a single mother and waitress who has to work two jobs to support her child. To add to the stress, her manager hates her without reason. But one day proves too much for Agnes, and we wonder if bravery in speaking up for herself is really the right move.
The second story is “By the Rivers of Babylon, There She Wept.” Carrie is a professional writer and has come to a small town for a respite from the city’s fake life. But her elegance and the aura of self-confidence have made her a pariah in the small town. They always see her with suspicion. So why is she here, and what is her story? This tale answers all, bringing up topics of assimilation and loneliness in sharp poetic prose.
The third story follows a group of old ladies who live by the ocean. Their usual routine gets disrupted when a young man trespasses their property. But this young man brings out the motherly instinct in these ladies, and they all lavish their attention on him. There’s something poignant in the way they wait for him to return. The remaining five tales in the collection each tell an anecdote in the lives of specific characters— all within in a few short pages.
The stories thrive in their conveyance of emotion in few words. It illustrates how small incidents, pieces of history, or simple moments are full of life. While it covers myriad facets of unique lives, these short stories also do a great job of never getting too heavy.
The book’s writing is utterly poetic. Fans of poetry will adore this one. Even though given a small frame of time, the characters definitely make an impression. I particularly loved “My Koan of Enlightenment,” which acts as an excellent example of co-dependency and toxicity.
The only gripe I have with the collection is with its dialogue, or at least with the first two stories. The dialogue in these two stories can feel outdated and overly dramatic. Since these stories start the collection, it has a longer lasting effect since readers just picked it up, but just know that by the third story, the conversations become much more natural.
Each story in this beautiful collection hits on unique themes and tones. Readers who like emotional stories with poetic writing and strong themes, particularly of loneliness, will love this book
Genre: Short Story Collection
Print Length: 312 pages
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