Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” Having grown up in St. Petersburg, Russia, author Vincent Hunanyan chronicles the hype of his life experiences – driven by this very nature – in his new book of short narratives he bluntly dubs, I WASN’T CRYING OVER YOU.
These stories, loosely based on Hunanyan’s real-life experiences, reflect those of resilient characters enduring the unexpected blows of life’s bipolarity: the more nervous-anxious than excited-anxious feeling of a child seeing an absentee dad for the first time in a while; a young man dealing with the loss of his mother and rolling with life’s punches inside the boxing ring; a little boy toughening up and brushing himself off after getting beaten up to do something he didn’t want to do. The stories also touch on crushing revelatory moments in other people’s lives: an ordinary man whose practical joke about a layoff that is really a promotion turns on him when his wife uses the seemingly low moment to tell him she’s been cheating with his more successful brother. The teakettle whistles as the emotionally charged moment between the dying flames comes and goes. Burn.
If that story was too heartbreaking, take the gentler one of young lovers who together decide their relationship is not working… but not without a little situational poetry when Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” plays on the jukebox in a quiet diner in the middle of the night, and the couple listening to Jeff Buckley’s poignant rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” blares in the car ride there. If these relationship mishaps aren’t enough tragedy, there’s the story about family biding time and keeping the spirits up of their beloved Aunt Mary – struck by sickness quickly and unexpectedly (cancer) – waiting for death to take her away, a tribulation a priest told the family was “all part of God’s plan.”
In creatively documenting the highest highs and the lowest lows that surely encompass life, Hunanyan’s crisp character descriptions and engaging storytelling will leave the reader of this medley of exhilaratingly amusing and heartbreaking narratives of love, loss, boyhood camaraderie, tragedy and the intrigue of meeting new people thinking, laughing, and most importantly, feeling grateful for having life to experience. He even throws in a couple of one-act plays detailing the hilarity in the uselessness of therapy and the human fickleness in moving on from sticky situations that are best left in the past.
~Lianna Albrizio for IndieReader