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Enchantment: New and Selected Stories by Thaisa Frank

Enchantment by Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger’s Glasses (my review),  is a collection of short stories that offers a variety of perspectives on the real and imagined, and some stories have a more other-worldly feel to them than others.  Each story wears a mask of beauty and fantasy in which characters themselves take journeys or dream of traveling to cover up the heartbreak and dissatisfaction with their lives.

Frank’s prose is beautiful and mysterious, and her characters are genuine and real, even the vampire from “The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire.”  Each story has an undercurrent of longing as each character searches for a connection to something or someone, and in some cases, there is a longing to repair even broken connections as a means of regaining some of that lost sense of wonder that most of us feel when a connection is first made.

From “The White Coat” (page 147 ARC)

“She remembered almost nothing of her life back home–the cramped little alcove where she did translations, their sprawling city apartment–everything vanished in this air of limitless depth.”

Starting out the collection are some more fanciful stories, like “Thread,” “Enchantment,” and The Girl with Feet That Could See,” but further into the collection the stories are less fanciful and less playful and more realistic, like “Henna” and “Postcards.”  However, the real gem of the collection is the collection of stories within the collection — a series of stories — that make up “The Mapmaker.”  These stories or vignettes told from a single point of view focus on one family and its most intimate secrets, like who made the map that hangs in the father’s study and was it really the narrator’s grandfather.  There is even a story that touches on the manipulative nature of children when adults have a secret they don’t want others to know and of course, there is the overarching story of families and communication and how broken it all becomes.  In this section of the collection, it is clear that Frank is a novelist and in many ways, these stories could become their own full fledged novel.

Enchantment by Thaisa Frank straddles the world between the real and the imagined as her characters try to capture some of that awe that we often feel as children about life and to connect with others in the deepest way possible.  Frank is a talented writer with a firm grasp of characterization and storytelling, and while not all of the stories feel complete, they all will transport readers to another world, another time, and another place in the hope that they will once again become captivated with their own lives.

About the Author:

Thaisa Frank grew up in the Midwest and the Bronx, the granddaughter of a Presbyterian theologian and a Rumanian Chassid, who consulted each other about Aramaic texts. Her father was a professor of medieval English and her mother a director of small theater groups.  She earned an honors degree in philosophy of science and logic from Oberlin College, studied graduate linguistics and philosophy at Columbia and worked as a psychotherapist before becoming a fulltime writer. She has traveled extensively in France and England, and currently lives in Oakland, California.

  • Ti

    I’ve grown to really appreciate the beauty of the short story. I am taking an analysis class this fall specifically for short stories. I’m excited.

  • Pingback: Short Story Discussion & Enchantment by Thaisa Frank Giveaway()

  • I wonder if the author has any plans to revisit some of these characters in other short stories or perhaps even a novel.

  • Sounds like there is a satisfying range of stories in this collection. I like that it has both fanciful and realistic stories – a nice combination.

  • Just to throw the writer’s opinion into the mix 🙂

    First, thank you for the lovely and insightful review, Selena…..

    Second, as an inveterate short story writer and a sometimes-novelist, it always gratifies and fascinates when the work is transformed by someone else’s vivid and original imagination. A review that both of you might find interesting at http://tinyurl.com/7d8az9w.

    Meanwhile…thanks again!

  • Great review! You captured the spirit of this collection way better than I did, but you also liked it a bit more. I think Frank is more of a novelist and as you know I loved her novel.

    • I’m glad the review made sense. I wanted to capture what I thought about the collection. I did like this a bit more, there were some stories in the middle that I didn’t care for as much , but overall it was a good read.