Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories

Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories

by Nancy Christie



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780986064975
Publisher: Pixel Hall Press
Publication date: 09/09/2014
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
In Traveling Left of Center, author Nancy Christie introduces the reader to a remarkable collection of short stories about people who, for some reason, find themselves traveling left of center. Each character has to deal with a situation for which they’re not prepared, and this book truly shows humans at their most vulnerable, and sometimes at their most powerful when they show true strength. Some of the stories were emotionally heavy, and others were lighter, but they all did paint flawed characters, and the author did an incredible job portraying all characters’ emotions, from lonelinss to frustration to sadness. Often in short stories I find it hard to connect to the characters since we share little page time with them, but I had no such issues here. The writing was excellent, and the author had no trouble transporting the reader into the world of these characters. I really enjoyed this collection of quality work, and look forward to reading more books by this author in the future. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is it that you’re looking for in a story? What exactly? Sometimes it’s hard to know until you read a book and then you just stumble right into it. Even then sometimes all you can say is “that was really a good story” or “I loved that!” It’s difficult to say exactly why because so many qualities in good writing that we like are intangible, hard to pin down and equally hard to express. Like an illusionist on stage that makes things appear where there was nothing or disappear before your very eyes, you don’t know how that happened; it’s a mystery. You just say, “Wow.” A terrific short story writer like Nancy Christie does very much the same with a story. As an art form, short stories aren’t easy to master, but like any pro she makes it look easy, and you end up saying, “That was good! How’d she do that?” What I look for in reading short stories are characters that I can feel for, people I can understand, if not relate to. It’s not that I have to like them, but the author has to make them emerge clearly, quickly, to craft a picture from their words that I can fix and hold in my mind. Nancy Christie does just that. The story and the characters have to make sense to me. In the best stories, for me, I want to feel some mystery about where the story is going, what’s going to happen, what the character will choose, to feel some level of suspense. The stories in Traveling… grab me just that way. Finally, I’d want to be so engaged as to forget myself, my problems and circumstances, while I read; in the best stories for me I want to be carried away by them. Yes. Exactly that. If I can find these things, it’s nothing short of wonderful. Enter Nancy Christie, a short story master, and they’re all there. Enter Traveling Left of Center, with stories that go left and go right, with either the story or the characters that make you go, “Wow,” when all is said and done. Either that or you end a story of hers with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and filling in the blanks of what isn’t stated in a final way, making you think and wonder. There are people in her stories that are out there on the edge, where things could go either way, as in actual life. What will they choose? Not everything in her work carries either happiness or a happy ending, and that is as it should be. Real. What else would I like to find with Nancy Christie and her short stories? That she’s published another new book of stories, and I’m starting on page one. Don Calderwood, Short Story Writer, Author of Life, and How It Gets That Way
Charline_Ratcliff_Author More than 1 year ago
A noteworthy look at human angst... Sadly, it’s taken me several months to write my review for Nancy Christie’s: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories – not because this book wasn't riveting, but rather because I had sprained the UCL in my main writing hand’s thumb. Believe me, I tried to write; but unfortunately good intentions disappear completely when the mere site of a pen (or keyboard) causes excruciating pain. Now that my errant digit is mostly better though, let's discuss Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories. So, first off, I didn't accept this review request because I'm a fan of short story compilations. I'm not. I did however agree to read it because:  I liked the person who was asking, I always try to help others, and – I have difficulty saying no. However, I must admit that I sincerely enjoyed this conglomeration. Each one was well-written, interesting and, more often than not, quite believable. I also appreciated that each story Christie provided had substantial length. Because of this, I wasn't left feeling cheated by a short story ending too soon. Each tale found within Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories certainly lived up to the book's rather unusual title – and while some were on the very edge of ‘disturbing,’ Christie never crossed the boundary of providing the reader with too much information. If anything, she masterfully wrote these stories in such a manner that the reader's own imagination will fill in any blanks. Oftentimes this writing style winds up being even more impactful (or terrifying) when reading stories of this nature. Each character, within each tale, will almost certainly tug at your heartstrings while you, the reader, discover multiple variations of human angst. Read if you dare, but be prepared to come out on the other side with a different outlook on life – maybe even with a new resolve to be a better person. All in all, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories was an insightful, yet chilling read. Christie is a master with the pen and I'm looking forward to more from her in the future. (Book received free of charge for an impartial review).
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars I consider myself a reader of novels. In my experience, very few short story authors (Alice Munro being a notable exception) can capture true emotion or deep insight in 30,000 words or less; the best I can usually hope for is an intriguing turn of phrase or two or an unexpected plot twist. Nancy Christie's debut collection Traveling Left of Center blew those preconceptions out of the water. Although most of the stories in this collection seemed to be on the lower end of the short story spectrum in terms of word count, virtually all of them rated 4 or 5 stars, with only two ("Misconnections" and "Beautiful Dreamer") being below average. Many of Christie's stories share a focus on mother-daughter relationships, and they capture the joys and agonies of that relationship perfectly. Christie's evocation of the adult daughter and senile mother in "The Kindness of Strangers" manages to nail the voices and experiences of both parties, making this my favorite story in the collection, but "Watching for Billy," "Waiting for Sara," and "Annabelle" are almost equally strong. The subtlety of "The Storyteller," in which an elderly volunteer on a children's hospital ward alternates the cheerful story she tells the children with the much sadder truth she shares with the reader, carries an unexpected bite. Christie even does magical realism well, as when she excites the reader's compassion for "The Healer" in a matter of a few short sentences: "'Just let me touch you. Please - just one touch. The tip of my finger, then. Please, can I touch you with the tip of my finger? Please? Just for a second. Please!'" She then goes on to describe the Healer's reaction: "Begging. Pleading. The voice of desperation. Cassie had heard it so many times before and, in the beginning, in the early days, had found it impossible to ignore. So she would stand there, let them touch her, stroke her face, cut tiny pieces of faded cloth from her shirt, her jeans - once even a strand of hair from her head, done so quickly that she couldn't shield her skin from the sharp blade of the scissors. And with each touch, she felt more of herself being taken, being lost. But today, she turned a deaf ear to the words, hardening her heart to the emotion behind the plea. She had to. Otherwise, there would be nothing of her left at the end of the day. She would be in a million separate pieces, scattered to the four corners of the earth, a disembodied force forever longing for a body in which to once again reside." Christie is published by Pixel Hall Press, which describes itself as "a relatively new, old-fashioned small publishing house whose focus is on discovering literary gems and great stories by gifted writers that might have otherwise been overlooked." I, for one, am thankful that Pixel Hall Press discovered Nancy Christie, and I eagerly anticipate seeing what each of them comes up with next. I received a free copy of Traveling Left of Center through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
JenZuna More than 1 year ago
This book was quite different from most short story collections I usually read. The stories are very unique, and as short as they are they are thoroughly engaging. They give some really unique insight into us as humans and how we treat and interact, and react, to each other. The characters are all, to the last one, trapped in some situation where they feel trapped and suppressed. The grab of the stories comes in what each character does with their situation within the stories. The end of each tale isn't easy to assume, and is quite surprising in some of the stories. I loved reading these. The authors writing style is refreshing and I can't wait to read more from her. 5/5 from me!
Ameise1 More than 1 year ago
This book contains several short stories. Earlier I read from all those stories 'Annabelle' and 'Alice in Wonderland' which I liked very much. In each story the main character is a very special person (deranged, old and lonely, mentally disordered, psychical stressed or just to be at the wrong time at the wrong place). There is a lot of love for each main character and they are described with care. The spelling style in each story is very gripping. It's fast-paced and the outcome is never obvious in the beginning. (4 1/2 stars)
slvie More than 1 year ago
Nancy Christie has taken some of the dark desperation of the human condition and given it vibrant life and energy. These stories are provocative, stimulating and engage the mind with emotions you can't turn away from. The characters are well developed for short stories, and the plot in each story grabs you and keeps you till the end. I will be following this author with great anticipation. I requested this book for free in exchange for an honest review. OUTSTANDING!!!
IoanaN More than 1 year ago
When I received this book for review I mostly accepted it because I don’t like to refuse people. I was very skeptical and I was so sure I wasn’t going to like one bit! Boy, was I wrong. Nancy Christie takes the English language on such an endearing trip! She offers the readers the possibility to look at words and phrases from new angles. Words have new dimensions, really, as pretentious that must sound right now. Toying with words and phrases, the titles of her stories are at time dead-on literal or, on the contrary, unexpected with unsuspecting turn of events. What am I saying? Events? There’s no such thing as events in here. At most, the small beginning of something but it soon reaches a some sort of peak and leaves you bewildered and in need for more asking yourself what exactly happened. You find yourself playing the role of the cruel reader. You want to know more of the depth of the human misery – the human existence. You soon learn there is no turn for the best; it’s either downhill from where the story begins or a perpetual state of painful stagnation. She describes in well picked words the wounds of the man, open for all to see, and what is more, to find pieces of themselves in the said wounds, but not necessarily to learn more from them. How could you? What could you learn? The vivid depiction of many a man, but yet alone in their dealing with their reality. Surely many can find themselves in at least one story. People dependent on other people. People physically sick of other people. The power of stories in creating new identities and new worlds to escape in. The longing for restoration in relationships. The longing for love stories that grow into more than just buds of a story. The power of a random thing that breaks the personal mundane, with unexpected and exaggerated consequences. The power of the inner voices and the mind created friends over-towering the power of reality. Man’s ability to destroy other humans. Man’s ability to withdraw from reality for a moment of respite, fresh like a long day of care-free existence. This collection is a wide range of emotions (though I don’t like the word), each story leaving me wanting to learn more of this world where this kind of characters dwell, but in the same time wanting to stop it from spilling over. Somehow you expect the inevitable to happen, but in the same time you hope it won’t. There is no happy ending here. It is a nice break from the overly-praised fairy-tales. I am still too immersed in each story’s realm to be fully objective, but I can surely say that so far this is one of the most engaging short story collections I’ve ever read. One needs the time to process them individually and also collectively. As one who thinks all things happen for a reason, I am sure the order of the stories within this collection couldn’t have been better and somehow you go gradually and layer-ly to new stories of life. Right was he who said the fault of this collection was the lack of yet another story, and another. (I actually read an ebook version of Traveling...)