Feeling distanced from her friends and family, middle-aged divorcee Caitlin Drury is encouraged by her daughter to express her feelings in a diary, but she is hesitant: I feel lonely she wrote, then crossed it out. She didn’t like the idea of someone coming along later to read her journal, finding out she felt lonely. “Like That,” and other stories from Anthony Varallo’s new collection Out Loud give voice to the disconnections of family and relationships, and the silent emotions that often speak louder than words.
In “The Walkers,” we follow a couple on their daily trek through a bedroom community, where they partially glimpse their neighbors’ lives, longing for inclusion. Yet their insular lifestyle ensures that they deal with people only on the surface–without learning the truth of their problems.
Out Loud tells of longings for meaningful expression and the complexities and escapism of human interactions that keep us from these truths. Varallo uses the trials of youth and remembrances of the past, the rituals and routines of the everyday, the interactions of family, friends, teachers, and neighbors to peel away the layers of language and actions we use to shield ourselves.
What makes Out Loud such a rare gift is that these are, simply and complexly, only stories. You won't find in here any literary pyrotechnics or gratuitous tales of excess that dare the reader to look away. Instead, these are stories about human beings who, via Anthony Varallo's artistry, actually matter.
The characters in Anthony Varallo's Out Loud are the sort of people who don't often speak up for themselves, and so it's particularly moving and gratifying to see these folks given a voice by a writer of such enormous tenderness, compassion, and good humor. This is a memorable collection of stories.
An example of the profound potential of the written word—a power than can educate, swau opinion and still be fun to read. . . . The workk of a borderline literary genius who certainy shoed shy he deserved [the Drue Heinz Literature Prize].
Varallo takes simple situations and creates larger truths.
Varallo says his stories are driven by a love of ordinary life, yet the 14 stories in this collection are anything but ordinary . . . A beautifully written collection filled with the familiar. We understand these characters because they are our friends, our children, and ourselves. In this extraordinary collection, we see ordinary life.
Anthony Varallo is assistant professor of English at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. His first short story collection This Day in History, won the 2005 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, Varallo’s stories have appeared in Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Epoch, and Harvard Review, among other publications.