Were We Awake: Stories
by L. M. Brown

"She realized that her ex-husband must have thought of that photo when he saw his thirteen-year-old. Or he must have been thinking of it all day, regretting over and over what had happened and what he didn't do."

The stories that make up this collection frequently share characters and events. Time frames differ, as do perspectives, often requiring increased contemplation on the part of the reader. That additional reflection, however, far from being a hindrance, provides a fuller appreciation of the lives being examined and the actions being recounted.

Mostly set in an Irish village—though not all—these narratives walk down the hidden corridors of the mind and into the secret rooms of the heart. The toll of accidental death, the shock of realization, the debilitating weight of guilt, the fight against despair, the lies we tell ourselves and others, the confessions we make, the confidences we betray, and the compromises we accept simply to keep going: these are the themes nestled in chronicles of death, adultery, suicide, kidnapping, and more.

Brown is a particularly perceptive writer who is unafraid to plumb the depths of her characters’ emotions, all without hyperbole or artifice. The undercurrents of her players’ psyches propel behavior that never seems less than credible. She is an exceptional chronicler of the angels and demons that drive us all (more often than not, the latter). Perhaps the most integral element of her prose is truth. When reading about a miner who has witnessed a tragedy, or a mother in search of a missing child, you believe every action, every word. Voltaire wrote, “Flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man devoured by sorrow.” Sorrow is a landscape Brown paints knowingly, unashamedly, and well. It is part of every life, a part that this author understands, respects, and crafts intricately into art.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home