British author Sebastian Faulks' new novel, "A Possible Life", is five short stories of different people at different times in the past and the future. All are so well written that they could all be lengthened into full novels. But what ties them together...or were they all stories that the writer just wanted to tell? I really don't know, but I headed into the last story, hoping for some link between the five. I couldn't find one - at least in terms of plot - but that doesn't mean that you won't. The only thing I could find between the five stories is that all centered on characters who lived in the world physically, but often had internal lives that were allowed them to function in a world of hurt.
Most other reviewers of "Possible" seem to have a favorite story or two; ones that may have touched them as readers. I suppose my favorite was the first "Geoffrey", which is the story of a British WW2 soldier who becomes a resistance worker in France and is betrayed by another to the Germans. Since he is not a regular soldier and therefore entitled to be sent to a German POW camp, he was sent to an unnamed concentration camp - probably Auschwitz. Because he can speak fluent French he is drafted to oversee the gassings and cremations of French Jews who had been sent there to be murdered. By disassociating himself from the hell he lives in, he is able to survive the war and returns to England to resume his life as a school teacher. But how do you survive after living through Auschwitz? By drawing further into yourself, retreating from the world around you.
And that is how most of the characters in Faulks's short stories survive. Whether suffering physical, mental, or emotional angst, the characters are survivalists in the extreme. The different times and countries the stories are set in also accentuate the feeling that surviving angst is a universal theme and most people do it be shutting off parts of themselves.
The thing is, maybe as a reviewer I'm reading more into Sebastian Faulks' book than whats really there. Maybe it is merely five excellently written short stories. I don't know, but I can heartily recommend "A Possible Life".
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