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Book Review: UNEASY LIVING by Pete Morin


Pete Morin {lives here}
Published 2011 {smashwords}

All Blues

There’s a lot going on in All Blues. In less than 1.5 pages, Morin somehow manages to create characters with a past, present, and future. It’s all there, every dimension of time. And the rush of details at the end sneaks up on you. The story is mainly dialogue, but then this sentence creeped in, “Her head lolled sideways against the chaise pillow, eyebrows wrinkled above her shades.” Right then I could see the narrator’s daughter perfectly, she came into focus. I could hear her hair crinkle, I could see her face behind sunglasses, expression full of sass. Then came this paragraph, “The bottle paused, then tilted upward sharply and beer gurgled into her downturned mouth until she nipped it off and swallowed. She wiped a drip from her chin. Her head reclined.” Such attitude in this girl nursing her Red Stripe. I don’t know how this story got so big in my mind, but I know it looms, and I can feel her chilled fingertips, and I miss not knowing where she is now.


A story permeated with sadness. Apart from the white noise of ocean waves, this story is mostly silent. I feel like this was a little forced, or maybe it’s that it was a little quick. The ending — I won’t spoil it for you — was unexpected not because it was a shock, but because it seemed too neat, like a deus ex machina, like twining the frayed thread into one again when it really wanted to fray more.

I love the ocean in this story, though, I love the cottage and the dunes. I love listening to the way sand sounds when people walk across it. I love early mornings on the edge of a continent, watching daybreak. Again, Morin doesn’t disappoint with his prose. It sparkles like the stars. It’s world-building.

A Dirty Angel

This was a good-fun story. Complete change of tone, style, written for a more mature audience (if you know what I mean). No ocean this time, but cold months, ski slopes, and a much-anticipated Spring. I never knew what to expect. I thought I knew what to expect at times, but it always turned out I didn’t know at all. Great writing.

Joyful, Joyful

Although Pete Morin alerts the reader that this is a tear-jerker, the impact of this story was deeply felt. There were humorous parts, though accented with sadness of the kind that visits so many on The December Holidays. The ending was superb. Goosebumps. I was transported to the bedside of a person loved and ever expired. Only someone who has experienced sharp loss could write something as piercing as the very end of Joyful, Joyful.

Private Trust

I like the name Silas because I like the George Eliot novel. This tiny story continues the theme established in Joyful, Joyful. The impact isn’t felt, however, and I don’t think the author wanted their to be any felt impact. This story seems to be about inherited greed, how it drives people to criminal acts.

I’m starting to see how UNEASY LIVING works as a collection of stories. And now on to the last piece. Eager.

The Messenger

Okay. So this story made me cry. I didn’t think I’d have to admit it, but my girlfriend, a stunning human named Bridget, came into the kitchen and found me with tears and I said, “I’m crying. This story made me cry.”

There is a kindness in Pete Morin’s writing. His details, which have impressed me from the very first story, when the daughter lolled her head sideways on the chaise lounge, I now see aren’t so much a duty of the writer but a duty of the heart.

It’s his kindness that paints his stories with detail.

With a parent, you think you have your whole life to anticipate a certain eventuality, but it is still not enough time. You can manage to accept the fact in your mind, but you will never train your heart to live with the void.

I read his words, and I know I have much to learn, things that I don’t feel like learning, I’d rather not learn, but there is an aspect to being a person that is unavoidable. We’re mortal, we die, and no matter how much we doctor that up, it’s going to happen, we’ll get to that place, and it’s somehow reassuring to know that when we get there, when the loss is so fucking close to home, there will not only be profound sadness, but there will also be ice-melting compassion.

My Rating =

July 30, 2011 2:39 pm

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