Mark Dunn and his brilliant short story collection, American Decameron.
Based on Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron,
Dunn tells a story for every year of the century. Every state is
represented, as well as at least one location outside the country.
The author suggests only the first and last stories be read in order, and the rest could be read in any order.
read the stories in chronological order, and I am glad I did. The
stories progressed linguistically and tonally: the formality of the
language and story tone evolved with the century, as did subjects, which
also were very enjoyable.
On the whole, the stories
were successful. Some were steeped in history, others were absolutely
original. Many were rooted in fact (I plan to search for clues on the
more obscure stories). Not all are stories in the traditional sense, and
the imaginative approach to storytelling was revolutionary,
entertaining and, at times, completely unexpected. A few of the stories
seemed a little contrived and token (1982, I'm looking at you).
than a few of the stories made me cry. A couple of them required me to
compose myself after reading them, particularly the post-war stories. I
read American Decameron with Carole, and we called each other to see which
stories we had read. ("Have you gotten to 1930?" "Oh, my stars, 1948!")
for the record, 1948 was one of the most moving stories I've ever read.
1903 was imaginative and touching, 1907 had the most delicious twist.
1916 was profoundly heartwarming, 1954 nearly broke my heart. 1926
actually did break my heart.
I also am slowly making my way through the original Decameron. In fact, I plan to re-read American Decameron while reading the Italian story collection. Then, I'll read American Decameron
again and again. It's the kind of collection that gives readers
something new at every reading. If you are like me, you'll gorge on the
stories for as long as your eyes will stay open, then a little longer
I strongly recommend this book, and I can't wait to find out what you think.