Verdict: YOUR SMALLEST BONES is an impressive, memorable collection from an exciting and distinctive voice.
Characters contend with loneliness and longing in these twelve short stories.
A depressed man engages a child in a discussion of Heaven and Hell in San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. A man who can’t control his mastication finds and loses a woman in a backless dress. The quirky denizens of an apartment building live separate lives, only vaguely aware of one another. In these dozen stories, Taylor explores the asymmetric passage of time, the inscrutable machinations of the human body, and the haunting symbolism of modern life, often in the rain-and-fog muffled neighborhoods of San Francisco. The collection suffers from occasional typos that break the prose’s illusory hold, but when the stories grip you they really grip you. There is an uneasiness to the prose that makes Taylor’s worlds vaguely unrecognizable: emotions are slightly heightened, dialogue slightly sharper than what one normally hears on the street. Yet that alien sensation contains a recognizable sadness that cuts directly to the reader’s core. There is a feeling that we’ve sat in these apartments before, that we’ve known this cold person at the other end of the mattress. Taylor is most concerned with the unspoken communication that passes between people, with how we scrutinize each other in a hopeless quest for understanding. He does not call much attention to his premises, yet the often-surreal images contained in these stories will remain with the reader for a long time. In one, a couple pushes a grand piano across the surface of a frozen lake; in another, a newly deaf musician paints the keys of his upright piano’s keys in the colors of the light spectrum, while down the hall a woman teaches her pet parrot to sing the phrase, “I certainly wish my heart would slow down.” With humor, discomfort, numbness, and heartbreak, Taylor builds wondrous structures and then tears them down around you.
YOUR SMALLEST BONES is an impressive, memorable collection from an exciting and distinctive voice.