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Lives of Crime and Other Stories by L. Shapley Bassen

Source: L. Shapley Bassen
Paperback, 194 pgs.
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Lives of Crime and Other Stories by L. Shapley Bassen is an odd little short story collection in which the characters are hit with an unimaginable situation and they must cope with the ripples that disturbance creates.  Like many short story collections, some stories will resonate more easily than others.  The title story, Lives of Crime, has a surprise ending, while others are a little more predictable and some are cryptic.  Bassen provides a wide range of characters in a variety of dark situations, including one in which a student’s idea could be published under a credentialed professor’s name, rather than his own.

One of the best stories in the collection, Triptych, involves the restoration of artwork and the lonely life one restorer. Once she finds happiness with someone in her building and things seem to be going well, fate intervenes and turns her world upside down.  As echoes of the art world play out in reality, Bassen creates a series of devastating events that could leave some depressed in the corner.  However, like other stories in the mix, the reader is held at arms length from the characters by the narrative style.

Lives of Crime and Other Stories by L. Shapley Bassen is a collection of vignettes in the lives of those who are unaware that their fate is about to be taken out of their hands.  Each story is intriguing, but many felt unfinished or like they had abruptly finished before the reader was satisfied.  However, the unique situations and characters do provide readers with a lot to ponder, particularly about how they would react in similar situations.

About the Author:

L. Shapley Bassen‘s half dozen plays include Atlantic Pacific Press’s 2009 prizewinner, a comedy, The End of Shakespeare & Co , directed by Pulitzer judge George W. Hayden (Audio excerpt published online). Two more prize winners, from the Fitton Center in Ohio, the one-acts Next of Kin and The Reckoning Ball (the day Brooklyn’s Ebbett’s Field was torn down), were produced in 1998 and 1997. Next of Kin has also been published twice recently in Prick of the Spindle and Ozone Park Journal and was produced in 1999 at NYC’s The American Theatre of Actors. Ms. Shapley-Bassen was a 2011 Finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award, and currently (2013) she is Fiction Editor at The Prick of the Spindle. In 2009, she was on the team of the first 35 readers for successful start-up Electric Literature. She was co-author of a WWII memoir by the Scottish bride of Baron Kawasaki and won a Mary Roberts Rinehart Fellowship. Her stories, book reviews, and poems appear in many lit magazines and zines, including The Rumpus, Horse Less Press, The Brooklyner, Press 1, Melusine, New Pages, and Galatea Resurrects. She is a reluctant ex-pat New Yorker living in Rhode Island, now at work on a new play, Dramatic Anatomy.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    Abrupt endings and feeling unfinished are the biggest problems I have with short stories.

    • I think the author was looking for a breathless or shock factor, which worked better in some stories than in others

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    This does sound thought provoking but I don’t think I’d like the unfinished feeling.