This Will Be Difficult To Explain by Johanna Skibsrud

Mike’s review

The spine feels like I might be the first person to read this. I’ll make sure to not eat Cheetohs while reading.


No plot summary, what with the short stories and all. I suppose I could summarize something of a general theme. The smallness of a life which wants to be very large. A plateau on the open plain. The unincorporated prairie town your mother grew up in. That was aptly vague. There you go.


Decided to postpone Scenic Utah galley edits until after I’d read this to put me in short story mode, but 10 pages in and this seems very quaint and Utah is basically a raging murder boner, so I’m not sure my strategy will be effective. (Really, all I’m trying to do is procrastinate, so my strategy is quite effective.)


It seems peculiar for an American to connote the word “actress” so heavily with theater (especially when her experience of theater is negative).


I feel like there’s some point to “The Electric Man” that I’m not getting, not even close. Story feels barely held together (like French novels).


There are a lot of sentences that are a word or two away from heartache. At first this disappointed me, that each sentence wasn’t a dagger, but there’s something to be said for living this close to the edge and never going over. This nearness of agony feels more appropriate for this set of stories.


The colloquialness/provincialness of these stories seems so purposefully provincial. Like a willingness/desire to keep them small when they could be extrapolated into a larger human condition. This beating on the head with smallness makes it hard to read more than two stories in a row.


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