Author: Edward Belfar
Published: June 2012
Publisher: Stephen F. Austin University Press
Category/Genre: Collection of short stories/fiction
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Wanderers-Edward-Belfar/dp/1936205475
The wanderers of Edward Belfar’s debut collection of short fiction appear in a variety of settings—a piano bar in Rome, a hospital bed, a train traveling between Nairobi and Mombasa, the bleachers at Yankee Stadium—but nowhere are they quite at home. Often, they struggle to navigate geographical and emotional terrain that they find unrecognizable as they search for hope, redemption, and love.
The collection includes several stories set in Kenya. In “Mistaken Identity,” a blunder by an American groom-to-be at a traditional Kikuyu engagement ceremony lands him in hot water with his fiancée. “Something Small” depicts the inner struggles of a man trying to remain honest amid a culture of corruption. In “Departure,” an expatriate returning to Nairobi for a visit discovers her brother’s plans to raze the family home. Despairing of changing his mind, she sets off on what she expects will be a nostalgic voyage to the coast via the overnight train. Sadly typical of the Kenya to which she has come back, however, the elegant conveyances of her youth now exist only in her memory, and the journey becomes a grim test of her endurance.
Two linked stories trace the arc of a doomed marriage. In the first, a young groom spending a quarrel-filled honeymoon in Rome with his pregnant wife leaves their hotel room one night to wander the city alone. He blunders into a piano bar and finds he has made a costly mistake. In “Visitations,” set some years later, the same man, now paralyzed after getting drunk and flipping his car during another ill-fated flight from unhappy domesticity, endures a plague of unwanted visitors to his hospital room. One visitor, though, offers him hope of redemption. The reverberations of a single life-altering moment are also felt in the story “Errors.” Still haunted by a misplay committed decades before that cost his team a championship, a former Major League baseball player reluctantly allows a reporter to persuade him to return to Yankee Stadium, the scene of his disgrace. The title story, the final one in the book, revolves around a chance encounter between two nocturnal wanderers: a man whose life, in the wake of his estrangement from his adolescent daughters, appears on the verge of unraveling and his one-time law school professor, a formerly imposing figure whom age has left frail and disoriented.
The Wanderers features a myriad of characters in various stages of "wonderment", whether they are to be found in Africa or Rome or in America. None of their lives are perfect which means there is no escapism here, which is what I'd hoped to find.
My favourite of the short stories was that of the baseball player who resisted interviews, living in a rundown room, trying to forget the good days and enduring the present until one day a reporter shows up who remembers the athlete in his glory days and what brought about his downfall. It is when he takes the ex-baseball player to a game at Yankees stadium that both reporter and ex player realize what they are missing....the truths, the empathy, the understanding. When the former athlete demonstrates these very attributes for another player, it becomes an eye opener for the reporter, the fans and for the reader too.
Mr. Belfar's short stories are about real life, real trials, and fictional people. With a creative pen, he brings them to life for a brief period for the reader's enlightenment and enjoyment. If you have but short periods of time for a quick read, then The Wanderers will fill it nicely.
Meet the Author:
Edward Belfar is a Long Island native who now lives with his wife in Maryland and works as a writer and editor. His fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Confrontation, Natural Bridge, and numerous other publications. His short story “Errors” was chosen as the winning entry in the Sport Literature Association’s 2008 fiction competition. Wanderers is his first book.
Author's website: http://www.edwardbelfar.com/
Author's page on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5168448.Edward_Belfar?auto_login_attempted=true
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