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 Short Story Collection Review   



The Children's Corner
By Jackson Tippett McCrae
The Enolam Press, 2004
Hardcover, $21.95 (176 pages)
ISBN: 0-9715536-1-0

Loss -- physical, spiritual, and metaphorical -- is the interlocking theme in the eleven stories included in THE CHILDREN'S CORNER. As in his first book, THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD, McCrae laces his stories with allusions to art, music, and literature. 

"Christmas Comes but Once a Year" is a hilarious parody of the practice of sending out Christmas letters. Having lived in New York for over ten years, Ollie Brandsnicker is no longer in contact with his extended family.

Believing that not responding to his midwestern cousin's "proverbial Christmas letters ... filled with fudge recipes and sanctimonious preaching," he could avoid the worst tendencies in his family and the accompanying seasonal tackiness. Unfortunately, his relatives are intent on keeping him up-to-date on family gossip and bringing him back into the fold of the church. Ollie's response and revenge will make any reader who has had to suffer through years of letters filled with too much personal information laugh out loud.  

Crook, a bittersweet novella, takes the occasion of a nephew visiting his beloved aunt Nelle, now in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's. With the knowledge born of a lifetime of listening, Jack (the nephew) is able to understand what Nelle is attempting to tell him. In a rare moment of awareness, she reminds Jack of the happy memories they've shared, makes him understand she knows what's awaiting, and is at peace. 

Using settings as diverse as Moulton, Alabama, New Orleans, Westport, Connecticut, and New York, McCrae has created characters with complicated lives and conflicted hearts. THE CHILDREN'S CORNER offers a generous and thoughtful look at the human condition.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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