Alan Semrow’s Briefs: A collection of Shi Tzus, dark comedy, and unhappy endings.
If you’re like me, you’re looking to start 2017 on a completely different page than you left 2016 on. You’re looking for a book to change your perspective and make you think. If that’s the case, I recommend Alan Semrow’s Briefs!
Semrow’s style reminds me a bit of an American Haruki Murakami.
The stories are brief snippets into everyday life. They’re sometimes sexual, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes both. They rarely ever give the reader a happy fulfilling ending. Semrow has dark comedy down pat, and the stories haunt long after they’re done.
Briefs contains turbulent stories about adultery, mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse, and learning how to fit into the world. They range from mildly uplifting to downright depressing. While this collection of briefs (ha) isn’t specifically LGBT-oriented, unlike most of my reads, but there are some LGBT-related stories.
I’ll admit that there were some stories that I liked more than others, but that’s expected with any collection of short stories. Semrow noted that he was particularly proud of “The Next Great American Novel Sinks to the Bottom of the River” in his interview, and I agree that this short story was a standout. Without giving too much away (NSFW warning!), “TNGANSttBotR” is a brief peek in the troubled relationship between Denise and the narrator, but it’s so much more interesting than just that. No story in the collection is as simple as it appears, so pay close attention!
Of the book, I loved “Abstracts of Other Men” and “Hard Chairs” the most, though the collection features plenty of relatable and interesting stories. Semrow’s dry approach to dark subjects isn’t likely to make you smile, but you’ll absolutely find yourself laughing through these unhappy stories.
Now that you’ve survived the holidays and need some time to relax and reflect, it’s the perfect time to pick up Briefs.
The stories are each only a few pages and cover all sorts of subjects, so if something isn’t suiting your mood at the moment, there are plenty of options. I suggest reading them in order so you get the full experience, but I won’t judge. Definitely do go back and read them all. They go by quickly and each offers something unique!
For its variety and beautiful writing, I give Briefs a solid A. I absolutely suggest it as your first read for the new year! Read our interview with Alan Semrow here.
PS: I love the cover.