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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
The major thread running through Tiny Shoes Dancing and Other Stories by Audrey Kalman is the intricacy of all kinds of emotions of people from all walks of life. Tiny Shoes Dancing, the collection's title, is the first story. It’s about a mother of a ballet dancer, Jody, who watches her talented daughter succumb to the pressure of the industry. It’s poignant and has a dramatic subtlety that I immediately loved. It’s easy to empathize with Jody who tries so hard to be a mother who supports rather than demands.
Forget Me, Forget Me Not, thematically similar to Tiny Shoes Dancing, is about pushing the limits of the human body. Lilah, a runner training and preparing for a race, hits an unexpected stumbling block－literally. Pearls is one of my favorites, as its protagonist contemplates her irritations, then decides to view them as her blessings instead. Another favorite of mine is The Appointed Time and Place, where a divorced make-up artist, who’s in the course of reinventing her life, severs her insubstantial relationship with a younger underwear model.
Not everything is easy for me to interpret. I’m still mulling about Back After a Break to Discuss the Decline of Civilization. Protagonist Marilee’s thoughts are slightly enigmatic to me. Is Cassie just a part of her desire? Is life with Preston the sole source of her regrets and envy? The Bureau of Lost Earrings ended the collection, where a woman’s earrings, which she often loses, held the story of her life’s journey. Kalman’s Tiny Shoes Dancing and Other Stories is visceral; emotions of fear, helplessness, jealousy, desire, anger, love－just to name a few. The tone is sometimes light and wry, even slightly ambiguous. The narrative is easily contemplative and encapsulates the relationship dynamics between people. Overall, a good read.