I was first interested in All Points North by Shelby Lee III after learning that he is inspired by the works of William Faulkner and southern literature. I love the gothic southern literature of William Faulkner and was hoping to find traces of his inspiration in Lee’s collection of stories. Truly, the only connection I could find to any inspiration by Faulkner was the stream-of-consciousness type of writing. At times I found myself chuckling at the stories and at others I found myself so confused by the writing that I wasn’t certain how I should be feeling. It was a perplexing set of stories.
I felt underwhelmed by the short stories or “volumes” and overwhelmed by the lack of focus and the rambling sentences that seemed to have no end. I couldn’t tell if the unpunctuated rambling sentences were deliberate as Lee wrote this long stream-of-consciousness narrative or if it was due to poor formatting and the lack of a good editor. It felt as though Lee was trying to portray the complexity of the mind and the psychological challenges faced by many people but the purpose of the stories never really came together. There always appeared to be just a little something lacking. An overwhelming lack of completeness left me feeling disappointed at the end of every story.
This book was pitched as “13 short stories that trace the roots of grief, anger, psychological torment and sorrow, and shine a much needed light on our seemingly unexplainable behavior and attitudes.” I can’t say that I feel a light was shined on any unexplainable behavior. Perhaps I didn’t understand the stories, or the writing, or the mission behind the book. I had hoped to be able to discuss the insightful perspective on behavior and the complexities of human nature; instead I feel confused not only about human nature but about the moral of the stories and the overall purpose of the book.
Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover