Well, so in love with Tell Me am I, that it is hard for me to write about this collection without sounding over the top but I do fully believe that Mary Robison’s stories should be required reading for all human beings inhabiting the planet Earth. Robison typically begins in media res and ends abruptly—yet the reader never feels cheated or left without meaning. Instead, the reader feels as though a slice of the world has been illuminated.
The key to her brilliant writing is subtle characterization and dialogue so real it is as if one is hearing it over the fence instead of reading it on the page. Her characters do not exist as specters in a book, rather they live in this world and are given real words to express themselves.
Though one often feels heartbroken at the end of one of these stories, it is not because Robison is pushing sentimentality. Rather it is that something has been experienced—a catharsis.
There was not one of these 30 stories that I did not love but the one I loved the most was the very last one, “Yours,” which left me breathless, gasping, really, when as his young wife lies dying, Clark stumbles on the truth he would like to share with her:
At the telephone, Clark had a clear view out back and down to the porch. He wanted to get drunk with his wife once more. He wanted to tell her, from the greater perspective he had, that to own only a little talent, like his, was an awful, plaguing thing; that being only a little special meant you expected too much, most of the time, and liked yourself too little. He wanted to assure her that she had missed nothing.