Review: People Tell Me Things by David Finkle

Title: People Tell Me Things
Author: David Finkle
Pages: 256
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.

David Finkle’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, November 7th:  Books Distilled
Wednesday, November 9th:  The Broke and the Bookish
Monday, November 14th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, November 15th:  Life in Review
Friday, November 18th:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, November 21st:  Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, November 23rd:  Take Me Away
Wednesday, November 30th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, Dec. 1st:  Sarah Reads Too Much 


  1. Hrm...I'm reading this now. I'm surprised to find I'm enjoying the first story, probably because I know a few people like this. I'm not sure I'm totally going to love the collection so we'll see -- but I'm not hopeful. So far all the reviews are fairly lukewarm.

  2. I have heard others make some of the same comments on this book that you did, and would have to conclude that this one is not really for me. I am not much for reading about the artsy lifestyle in New York, and probably would enjoy this one very much. Thanks for the honest and perceptive reflections today.

  3. Jenna, I truly appreciate you giving it a look. Thanks so much for being on the tour.

  4. Sounds like the the type of book perfect for audiobook format.

  5. You said it perfectly: the first person point of view only served to make it seem like one person with several stories; none of the stories seemed true when I thought they would be (Googling things like a fool to no avail); I probably am not the best audience for this book. Or, maybe my expectations were just way off base. Plus, a few gay stories go a long way with me. It's not like all of New York is homosexual, right?


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