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  • Writer's pictureRobert Wallace

Midwest Review of Books Review

Midwest Review of Books contributor Diane Donovan

recently reviewed my short-story collection: As Breaks the Wave Upon the Sea.

Once on the site, search for "Robert Wallace" to read the review.

The complete text is also shown below:

As Breaks the Wave Upon the Sea

Main Street Rag Publishing Company

9781599488561, $16.95

As Breaks the Wave Upon the Sea gives literary readers short stories featuring characters whose pivot points revolve around moments of heightened self-awareness, exploring relationships, transformation, and the processes which affect both.

The opening story, 'The Science of Air', outlines a relationship between Adriane and her aging father. She is his best friend...and maybe his only friend. Family ties come to life as she reflects on the two most important relationships in her life and how vastly they differ: "There is a question I often ask myself. How often do I think of my father? I think of him all the time. He moves in my mind and memory like a permanent apology. But where am I in his thoughts? I think my father's thoughts are not empty. He thinks of brush, apples, plums, cherries, sun, and rain. He thinks of earth. He thinks of enzymes, mold, beetles, worms, diesel fuel. Tractors, tires, sprayers. He thinks of birds, fleeting and raucous, large nests in crooks of trees. Little birds' nests on the ends of branches. My father's head is full of these things. It is my mother's head that I can't fathom. I don't know what is in there. Sometimes she just goes missing."

As the bond between Adriane and her orchard farmer father is explored through vignettes of their interactions, the rest of the family injects their own perspectives: "Where's my father?" I ask Aunt Mary. "Out in the orchard somewhere I imagine Adriane. You know your father; he communicates with those trees better than he does his own family." "He talks to me," I say. "Yes, he talks. Communication isn't just talk."

When the truth emerges about why her mother feels so mentally and physically distant, readers begin to understand the forces affecting her closeness with her father as Adriane almost instinctively learns how to reach her distant mother.

Each short story embraces a very different viewpoint and life with insights that keep readers emotionally engaged in the characters and their perceptions of change. Each comes embedded in a sense of place, whether it is on a farm, in Ohio, or paddling on an eleven-mile journey in North Carolina.

Bound by the water and the rhythms of often-spontaneous decisions as routines of life and death change each character, these stories are satisfyingly diverse slices of life that capture the hidden purposes, passions, and personas of those who move through it.

Each character brings the reader into his world. Robert Wallace opens up moments that transform with words that ebb, flow, and pull like the tides: "Some people felt a pull for the water. Any water would do. The sea especially had its converts. Winsome had never felt that mystery. Except for walking unfamiliar streets, mystery had never mattered to him, and he wondered if that was a failing in him. Kayaking had changed everything he felt about water."

As Breaks the Wave Upon the Sea is highly recommended reading for literature readers who enjoy psychological inspection thoroughly grounded in the elements and routines of daily living.

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