on January 1, 1970
Genres: Magical Realism, Short Stories
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
A middle-aged rock star has a nervous breakdown in a posh Mexican hotel. A sullen teen with a DUI contemplates life during court-ordered community service. A man decides between his girlfriend and her roommate in the middle of an earthquake. A gay professor in '70s New York uses yoga to get over his young, dangerous, closeted ex-lover. These are just some of the complex, fascinating milieus that Chicago author Sally Weigel explores in her new story collection with the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, Get Up Tim, a series of dense character studies with a sprinkling of magical-realism thrown in. Her second book with CCLaP after the 2009 youth/war novella Too Young to Fall Asleep, and with several of these stories already appearing in admired lit journals around the US, these probing looks at the contemporary human condition take us from teen prescription-drug parties to the dumpsters of homeless Pilsen, and even to a dark fairytale alt-universe, Weigel holding it all together with her trademark style and dry wit. The love child of Joe Meno and Joan Didion, this short and intense manuscript shows the flowering of a strong, young voice in the literary community, and fans of Weigel's first book will be delighted to see her potential realized even more potently here.
It’s no secret that so far, I’ve adored every one of the CCLaP titles I’ve read. The stories in Sally Weigel’s Get Up Tim are an interesting mix of edgy and sweet, real and magical. They are fantastic character studies, as the synopsis suggests, but for some reason the collection as a whole wasn’t quite as memorable for me.
My favorite stories were “Growth Spurts” and “The Land of What If,” thanks to how brilliantly Weigel handled the child perspectives. During Bout of Books 10 I mentioned that the magical realism in “Growth Spurts” reminded me of Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake… the trees, the wood, the furniture. Without giving anything away, I thought there is an interesting parallel between Maria in “Get Up Tim” and Joseph at the end of Lemon Cake. I was also touched by the perspective of the homeless character in “Flower Punk.”
For me, these three stories were the gems, but I wanted more. If Sally Weigel ever writes a full-length novel incorporating magical realism, an element which really sparkled in Get Up Tim, I’ll be first in line for it.