Book Review: Marry Me, by Dan Rhodes

Originally published in the January 28th, 2014 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission. If you don't already receive it, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

Individually, the stories in Dan Rhodes's Marry Me tell of singular events related to marriage. In "Friends," a wife leaves her husband but asks to remain friends. "Carbon" is a proposal story, in which a man, unable to afford a diamond, substitutes a piece of carbon. Weddings form the center of "Goethe," in which a young woman mocks the absurdity of over-the-top weddings until she finds herself planning one of her own.

There are more than 75 stories in Rhodes's slim collection; the longest is three pages, the shortest even shorter than this review, but to assume the brevity of these tales limits their ability to convey big ideas about the institution of marriage is to fail to appreciate Rhodes's skill with flash fiction. The short form allows Rhodes to jump around, first to a marriage dissolving, then to a union forming, to a couple resigning themselves to each other, to a proposal refused. Though strange at first--it is nearly impossible to commit to any one character in less than a page--the clipped rhythm ultimately works, as the stories move from poignant to pathetic to humorous and back again, never letting the reader know what to expect next. On their own, each story is an interesting glimpse into a particular situation in a particular relationship; combined, the tales form a prism of the complicated, messy, hilarious, pathetic, wonderful, awful thing that is marriage.


Thoughts from other bookworms:


Marry Me | Dan Rhodes | Europa Editions | January 2014 | Paperback | 170 pages

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