SPG Book Reviews - Sweet Life

Reviewed by: Alison Slowski

Sweet Life
by Linda Biasotto
Published by Coteau Books
Review by Alison Slowski
$18.95 ISBN 9781550505788

Twisted and perplexing, Linda Biasotto’s short stories in Sweet Life convey all the sadness and mystery of the human condition. With stories about grief and loss, sibling rivalry, marriage, as well as resentment and anger toward tyrannical parents and spouses, Biasotto’s stories cover all the bases of life, and with a bit of dark humour as well. She creates stories the reader has no problem slipping into, to be introduced to another new character at every turn of the page and relating to that character’s struggle with ease.

Touching on strange aspects of the personality of each new protagonist that the reader meets in every story, Biasotto introduces the reader to just enough questions to arouse speculation and suspicion. While one or two stories have some parallel plot threads, each story in Biasotto’s first grand collection is unique; a sign of masterful storytelling.

In the short story “Sweet Life”, we meet a teenaged boy, Jude Allan, struggling to get away from family home life problems. He realizes he’s not as tough as he thinks he is when his best friend suddenly becomes ill. Jude must contend with his best friend’s nosey girl and confront the fact that he doesn’t know all the answers. In “Impact”, we meet a middle-aged woman shunted aside by her two younger half-siblings. When the three adults visit their dying mother in the ICU, she begins to ask herself big questions about her family, and what it all means.

While this is Biasotto’s first collection of short stories, she has been awarded with much recognition for her efforts with many individual works within the collection presented at earlier times, before Sweet Life’s release. She has published works in Grain, Room of One’s Own, and Transition Magazines. The cinematic quality of the short stories, and the way they are played out, create great brain fodder for the reader through Biasotto’s succinct, clear prose and make way for the best development of each of her characters throughout each story. Sweet Life is a book for readers who crave a dark and edgy page-turner, or stories with humour and compassion.

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