Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: "Cold Snap" by Thom Jones

I am saddened to say that one of the worst short story collections I have read this year belongs to a man like Thom Jones, who I still think is the best short story writer since Raymond Carver. On the strength of two collections, The Pugilist at Rest and Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine; I made this claim, which I still stand by, even though his collection of stories published between those two books, Cold Snap, is not a very good collection, and certainly not one good enough to belong to someone of the caliber of Jones, whose grace and empathy that he brought to stories about boxing and the borderline criminally insane are not present in the stories here, which mostly take place in the jungles of Africa. Jones never seems to have a grasp on any of them that use this particular setting, and most of the time I was just thinking about how much better the story would be if it took place in a mental ward or a boxing ring. The title story, which introduces this collection, shows great promise (as most title stories to any collection do, as per my experiences), which has doctor just back from Africa who must take care of his sister, who only wants to shop when he takes her on a daytrip from her mental health facility. And the doctor is having his own issues at the moment, only finding joy in the threat of suicide. Also, “Dynamite Hands” the only boxing story about a washed up fighter being beaten down by life, is too good to belong in this collection. Too forgettable for someone who I respect and admire so much, but they can’t all be winners can they? Read the two stories mentioned, but skip the rest if you are not as stubborn as me.
Rating: 3/5

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