Bob Rich reviews Compassion Michigan

cover of Compassion, Michigan by Raymond LuczakRaymond Luczak’s short stories are among the most unusual I have read. They have immense power, due to three things. First, he takes the reader firmly into the reality of the narrator of the story. Second is the vividly depicted setting this person lives in. Third is the subtle elegance of his language.

This book is a rhapsody to the ordinary. There is tragedy in many of these lives, but they are the common tragedies of common, everyday lives everywhere. There is also joy, and achievement, but again the kind you’ll find behind a great many front doors. And yet, Raymond’s narration is indeed a rhapsody.

He has an odd pattern of storytelling, and perhaps this is my only critical note. Most of the stories start without a hook. The ordinary shines through, but if you read past it, you will be drawn in. I’d prefer to have this and also a hook, but Raymond carries the unusual style off.

The title is apt: the characters are not necessarily compassionate — indeed, some are vengeful — but the author’s compassion shines through the whole bevy of (invariably female) protagonists. This is the writing of an old soul, and reading his words will enrich your life.

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