I have certain friends who are a) good storytellers and b) seem to get into situations that led themselves to good stories. There are many aspects to what makes a good storyteller, but for the best voices it is often difficult to pin down what makes them so successful. For me, a good storyteller must be approachable and honest and connect with the reader or listener in ways that makes them feel comfortable and at ease with themselves. For me, Jane Schmidt is among these good storytellers. Her book of short stories, all about her experiences as an animal loving, single mother in rural central Wisconsin, is not something that I would ordinarily read. Usually I prefer books with chapters that develop gradually and have a defined beginning, middle and end. I am not a great reader of short stories. However, I surprised myself in really enjoying this book. Approachability and honesty had a lot to do with it. Jane made me feel at ease with her writing from the outset and I laughed out loud on several occasions.
There are dozens of stories in this book for you to get your teeth in and whilst they are all separate, they also work together as a collection, in that they link with each other both in terms of content and context. There is an animal/wildlife/farmlife hint to the book, which perhaps drove me to warming to it that little bit more, but mostly it is Jane’s humanity that comes across most strongly and makes me warm to her. In a world that can seem tragic and worryingly serious at the moment, this book provides some light relief and allowed me to escape, temporarily at least, in to someone else’s personal life, their thoughts, feelings, experiences, loves, hates, frustrations and, more than anything else, embarrassments!
It wasn’t exactly a page turner, and I read it over quite a long period, as a ‘light intermission’ between chapters of other books, but that should not discredit it. As a short story collection, there are no rules to how you should read this book. That in itself is testimony to the relationship you will forge with the writer. Thank you Jane for brightening up my day whenever I delved into your book and thank you to Marissa DeCuir for introducing it to me.
Not a Perfect Fit is published by She Writes Press and came out on 11th April 2017. It’s available to buy here, in paperback or kindle formats.