Review: People Tell Me Things by David Finkle
Author: David Finkle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Stories
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Publisher: Nthposition Press
Source: ARC Provided by Publisher
Everyone has been in a situation where a close friend or an acquaintance has begun telling a story. This story could be the retelling of an interesting interaction or the confiding of troubles with the intention of garnering advice. David Finkle's stories capture many of these moments through the eyes of multiple fictional narrators and put them into one collection. Each story centers around people influential in the New York City scene whether it be theater, art, writing, etc and the different eclectic events that happen in their lives.
My love of NYC is what attracted me to this collection initially. However, there wasn't a lot here to keep my attention. As with many short story volumes, some stories were much stronger than others. I particularly enjoyed "Rembrandt Paints Again" which focuses on a man who believes he has seen the famous painter on a city bus, makes his acquaintance, and eventually has his portrait painted by the stranger. There is a hint of magical realism that was a nice change of pace. "Stanley Konig Writing as Conrad Stamp" also caught my attention with it's social commentary regarding the effect of fame, although the critique was a little too obvious and lacked the nuanced insertion that some of the best stories utilize.
However, I wasn't too impressed overall. At first I wasn't sure if this was fiction and kept looking up all the names that were continually being dropped. I don't think I was the target audience as I didn't care too much about the problems of affluent city-dwellers. The stories were conversational, which I quite enjoyed, but the first person narration only served to unify everything instead of emphasizing that each narrator was a different person. This voice unification makes the collection a little boring and comes across as one person with way too many anecdotal stories.
While I wasn't too taken with this collection, there are bloggers who enjoyed it much more. I encourage you to check out the other stops on the tour and read their opinions.
About David Finkle
David Finkle has covered the arts for The New York Times, The New York Post, The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, The New Yorker, New York, Time Out New York, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The Huffington Post.