Acts of God: Stories

Acts of God:  Stories by Ellen Gilchrist

For years now I have found the short stories of Ellen Gilchrist to be a pleasure to read.  The selection here does not disappoint.  Each of the ten stories involves a plot that hinges on what might be an act of God that irrevocably alters the direction of the story’s direction.  Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, a tornado, a medical crisis, or dogs that incessantly bark and annoy the neighbors, each act, whether apocalyptic or ordinary, brings about a change in character, fate, or landscape that shifts something and leads the story on in a direction not expected.

When I think of Gilchrist, I think of one of the many gifted Southern storytellers, full of narratives inhabited by quirky characters, who entertain us, enlighten us, or maybe even haunt us.  In these stories the characters whom we meet seem rather ordinary folks:  EMS workers, a housewife, business people traveling to Europe, friends and neighbors.  But then something happens, and life shifts a bit under their feet, setting them in a direction different from where they thought they were headed. Do they emerge as the same people?  Most likely not, but then we’ve had the pleasure of watching them change and grow under the weight of that big or little shift in direction.  This collection if full of surprises and just plain, good old Southern storytelling.

D. L. S.

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