Book review My Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hershman

My Mother Was An Upright Piano coverComprised of more than 50 ‘fictions’ covering no more than two pages in most cases, this is a collection of extraordinarily condensed riches. Each tales is like a tiny gasp inwards, comprised of such power you might find yourself reeling.

I found too many favourites among the pages to mention them all here, but what astonished me most was the variety of voices and personalities parading past, many comprised of little more than a deft character sketch – so skilfully drawn they lived and breathed on the page, and making us care in those few words how they’ll live, die, whether they’ll be happy. ‘Dangerous Shoes’ does this especially well.

There was also an extraordinary amount of emotional truth in these small tales, those moments of startling recognition where you think, yes, I know how is, or, more strikingly, so that’s what that feels like. Look out for the sweet tender sadness in ‘We Will Be There’, the uncannily familiar ‘Graveside’, and the poetry of ‘Like Owls’.‘My Uncle’s Son’ explores introversion with compelling clarity, and throughout the collection complex ideas are broken don into something so pure you can inhale them.

The ability to create an entire, tangible world in a few lines is breathtaking, yet isn’t this what all creative writers, regardless of word-count, should aspire to? Tania achieve this with seemingly enviable ease.

Disconcerting circumstances, quiet, consuming dilemmas and moments of beauty as subtle as a breeze ruffling the surface of a pond all carry you through the stories so efficiently you need to make yourself pause, take a moment to absorb what you’ve read. I promise you, you will be better off for it.

My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions by Tania Hershman is published by Tangent Books and is also available from Amazon.

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