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"I'm not anybody. You're not anybody either.",
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This review is from: Werewolves in Their Youth (Paperback)
The first story in this effervescent collection of short stories is the titular one which describes the difficult relationship a nerdy, overweight boy, Paul, has with his next door neighbour's son Timothy, a kid who lives through comic books and who currently believes he is a werewolf. Timothy is large and sturdy and because of his utter belief in himself is a nuisance at playtimes and especially with the girls, who treat him with contempt and tease him by turns. Paul hates Timothy, but because he lives next door he has been unfairly linked with Timothy, and the headteacher has habitually relied on Paul to bring him back to something like normal behaviour. The boys are pre-teen (I would think around 10-12). To make matters worse Paul's Mum has banished his father from the house and in common with many children in such a situation, Paul's feelings are a mixture of shame, distress and relief that he no longer has to listen to their rows or witness his father's impotent violence. The plot skitters delightfully towards the absurd but utterly realist ending.
Chabon's gifts in these stories are obvious: he is deeply empathetic towards outsiders, especially the victims of broken marriages (men, women and children), or random and sometimes horrific events. Only in the last story In The Black Mill, did I lose my concentration as a horror story built somewhat unlikely premises and fell apart in a conclusion that merely set another puzzle.
Overwhelmingly, these stories are glittering, gracious and damned good.