The Kissing Game: Short Stories

Aidan Chambers, Author
Aidan Chambers, Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8109-9716-5
Reviewed on: 01/24/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-4197-0531-1
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4090-1466-9
Hardcover - 211 pages - 978-0-370-33197-3
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-1-84941-347-3
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In 16 short stories—three previously published, one written when the author was a teenager—Chambers (the Dance Sequence) takes an almost microscopically close view of teenagers' thoughts and interactions, with characters grappling with issues of faith, authority, relationships, and identity. Several stories are extremely short—in an afterword, Chambers places them in the "flash fiction" genre. "They are like a flash of light, a spark, which allows one quick view of a whole scene or person or event," he writes, noting they "are suited to writing and reading on the small screens of computers, iPhones, and eReaders." The briefest stories consist solely of dialogue, yet those written in prose can also have the feel of a script. Chambers often employs 11th-hour twists: the titular story veers into horror, "The Tower" into the paranormal. Vladimir Nabokov's description of the Russian word "toskà," included in a story of the same name, perhaps best captures the spirit of the collection, which is permeated with "a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning." Chambers leaves readers with much to contemplate. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
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