Book review: Tiny Grievances: Stories and a Novella, by Robert Thomson

Thomson, Robert. Tiny Grievances: stories and a novella. Second edition. No place: HowNow Media, 2016. 219 p. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-9939932-0-6.

Canadian Robert Thompson is the author of several novels and short stories, and a film maker. This is his first anthology of new short stories in 15 years. The stories are all in the 3rd person, and mostly sad but well written, with lots of dialogue. Some are quite short like two on smoking and quitting. The title story is about a gay man whose lover dies without much sympathy or understanding from anyone. Ten years later his brother shows up, sad that he used to mistreat his brother, and now he is finally coming out, saying he tried to hide his gayness by taking it out on his brother.

Not all the stories are gay. The second to the longest story at 42 pages, “Stalking Harold Greenbaum,” is about two older women who were fast friends for years until they clashed in pursuit of the same man at their company. Their long friendship went sour and collapsed.

The longest story, “Inside the Scar Circle,” is the novella of the works title, and it is the most upbeat. A middle-aged gay man from Toronto (home of the author) takes his annual holiday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Usually he is a loner there, but this time he becomes friends with a circle of friends who know each other in Michigan. He is accepted and brought into their circle. He has the best time ever and begins to rethink his life’s priorities.

Thompson is an experienced and talented writer, who is a master at describing the trials and tribulations of dysfunctional families, both straight and gay. His work belongs in any library that collects contemporary North American English fiction. Readers of serious short stories will also want to discover this work.

James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University


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