Such is Life is an appropriate title; the stories concentrating on everyday matters that most might find insignificant in the first instance. And therein lies the skill.
At first, when reading `Pretty Girl' and `Leaving Big Sky', I wondered if I was going to enjoy this collection as much as I was hoping to; becoming slightly weary of the descriptiveness of seemingly irrelevant body language, regardless of how well applied, and also because both of these stories, I thought, kind of left me hanging... wondering about the point of them... until I remembered the synopsis; this collection simply about being human - which then made me take a different view on the relevance of them and the deeper implication; the everyday actions and choices we make in life that might have some kind of bearing on who we are or what we become, but in terms of the underlying sentiment of these stories, the finer nuance of interaction between the characters, it became clear, was vital.
Moving on, I then thought that descriptiveness acted as a kind of precursor for the next three stories, building up to me having an appreciation of Walker-Bickett's style - which is crisp and linear. And while also literary, one doesn't have to think too hard to engage with it; the writing, flowing well, is easily understood, this descriptiveness with more relevance to the bigger pictures - almost as if Walker-Bickett had been building momentum; merely teasing the reader at first.
And as the stories became slightly more intense, darker even, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the collection. I appreciated in particular, the odd edgy scene thrown in here and there; a word or reference sticking out like a sore thumb almost juxtaposing the innocence of the writing style that I'd thus far seen, and that had me saying, `yeah... that's more like it'.
Being Scottish, I found the attitude of the Mormon community in `Not Terribly Important' quite fascinating (and, incidentally, an overall southern feel to this collection, which was quite insightful for me.) Ironically though, given the loud and clear message in that story, that fiction is fiction, I couldn't help but feel, as I smiled throughout, that it seemed almost cathartic - such was the conviction of the sentiment. All in all though, it kind of made me think, such is life indeed - a brainwashed, exacting, society, whose youth, especially, seem preoccupied, excited even, with all that they are taught to hate. Humph.
I was really immersed in `For the Love of a Dog', and that situation touched me a great deal. I found the characterisation far more invested - and as it was in the last piece also,`River Walk' - in that both women in the first two stories felt too similar for me to separate in my own mind. However, I felt the desperation of both respective main characters in the last two, in very different ways, and, in `For the Love of a Dog', the mentality of a pitchfork wielding society - which also had me reeling about the ridiculousness, largely, of humanity at large.
Overall I enjoyed these stories, they evoked emotional responses, and I read them in one sitting.
You can find out more about Jeri at her blog here.