"For the very real people in David Ebenbach’s vivid and emotional stories,” says author Jesse Lee Kercheval, “becoming a parent—as Judith, the single mother in four of the stories, says—is going ‘into the wilderness.’” The collection Into the Wilderness explores the theme of parenthood from many angles: an eager-to-connect divorced father takes his kids to a Jewish-themed baseball game; a lesbian couple tries to decide whether their toddler son needs a man in his life; one young couple debates the idea of parenthood while another struggles with infertility; a reserved father uses an all-you-can-eat buffet to comfort his heartbroken son. But the backbone of the collection is Judith, who we follow through her challenging first weeks of motherhood, culminating in an intense and redemptive baby-naming ceremony. Says author Joan Leegant, “Ebenbach takes us deep into the heart of the messy confusion and terror and unfathomable love that make up that shaky state we call parenthood. These stories are fearless, honest and true.”
This is a very interesting collection of short stories, with something that will fit pretty much everyone’s taste.
All of these stories are about parenthood, but the great thing about them is that you don’t necessarily have to be a parent to read them and really understand them. They speak to a very primal, very human, part of our being. My favorite, in particular, was the longest story in the collecting. There is such heart in that story, and it really gives us food for thought.
The writing is lush, with many wonderful moments. These vignettes of parenthood, which are all so different, still have a unity which makes it a cohesive short story collection. This is something that not all collections achieve, so it shows the author’s skill. There were one or two moments throughout the book that I found my mind wandering, but all in all, the author keeps us pretty entertained by the way he sees the world.
I do recommend it to all of you who love short stories. It would definitely make a great gift for a parent.