Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

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“If you have ever felt that the table at which you sit contains everything and everybody that matters to you, like a little boat, then you know how I felt. It doesn’t feel secure at all, but rather a little tipsy. It is unnerving to love a single place so much. There are no anchors to the world outside, the cities in the distance, the country around you. There is just this: the six of you afloat so happily in the temporary day.”

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Review: This realist collection of 6 stories really took me by surprise and I sped through it in a day which I rarely do with a collection. These stories don’t have a fastidious plot but are exquisitely conceived character studies and the longer length of these stories (30-40 pages) affords a sense of completion in each. While there isn’t a categorical theme that unites this collection, most have an academic setting following either a student or a professor, sprinkled with ideas ranging from unrequited love to communism.

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Lee’s writing is immaculate. There’s a simplicity to her style that feels effortless, evocative and is such a pleasure to read. Some of my favourites were, Bobcat, the title story, which follows a diverse cast of characters in a dinner party. It carefully unravels the dissolution of a marriage, of truths unsaid, interweaving interesting discussions of a lively dinner table. In Min, a young woman is tasked with finding a suitable bride for an arranged marriage of her best friend whom she is secretly in love with. On the Banks of Vistula is a story of a college student who plagiarises an academic essay propagating communist ideas arousing the suspicion of her professor.

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While there weren’t any duds in the collection, some stories were certainly more interesting than others. A scan through on Goodreads reviews made me realise how everyone has pointed out different stories as their favourites and I think that’s a great testament for a worthy collection. I would recommend this highly to readers of literary fiction who aren’t particularly drawn to short stories, as these stories are longer with a primary focus on characters.

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Rating: 4/5

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