Watching Oksana

new Ann Hobbie on A Jewel Box of Short Stories

This summer I relished the short stories in Meier’s collection, Watching Oksana. Wonderful tales connected by the theme of the parent-child relationship. Meier has such an amazing knack for capturing the life of the mind of a child. This is really evident in the haunting story Birdman and the “Laura stories” at the end of the book. American Snapshot is an amazing homage to the complex 20th century American culture, which brushes up to themes of race. A very rich piece, it should be required reading in American Lit/Studies courses at the high school and college levels. What a delightful collection this book is!

Pam Greer
on Powerful, Fascinating Short Stories

Emily Meier’s stories make the reader feel such strong emotions. My favorite stories in the collection are the ones that caused the strongest emotions in me:”The Temple of Amun,” “Watching Oksana,” “Birdman,” and “Swimming.” As I choose favorites, I find myself adding more of the stories to my list. Ms. Meier’s characters are faced with huge, heart-wrenching challenges that draw the reader in. She gets inside her characters’ heads and lets the reader in, too. I love her characters who are a little “touched in the head,” as we southerners say. These special characters can be found in “Eleven Days to China,” “Treasures,” and “Things.”

As always, Ms. Meier’s descriptions are powerful, causing the reader to use all her senses. Two examples from “Swimming” are: “A red barrette like a shiny jawbreaker bobbed upright on a black braid,” and, speaking of a swimsuit strap, “the quiet snap on soft shoulder bones.” Her work is filled with wonderful figurative language. That, combined with unique plots and characters, makes her stories a joy to read.


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