Short Stories Rip the Bandage Off Lifestyles, Emotions in Small-Town

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There Go I by Bill VanPatten

What’s it About?

In his new collection of short stories, Bill VanPatten rips the bandage off lifestyles, emotions and, well, not-so-well-kept secrets in and around small-town California.

“Everyone has secrets…and that’s what I write about.”

You hear the word “secrets” and immediately associate it with some kind of suspense drama, or thriller with twists and turns.

Then there’s the work of Bill VanPatten, who creates fictitious characters – likely amalgamations of real-life people and experiences – and thoughtfully explores their enigmas with style, sensitivity, beauty and grace. He does it in his new collection of short stories entitled There Go I, ripping the bandage off lifestyles, emotions and, well, not-so-well-kept secrets in and around small-town California.

The irony of all this is that the author, as it turns out, is more than capable of spinning traditional mysteries with secrets galore, as he so masterfully does in his earlier novel, Looks Are Deceiving, reviewed here.

Variety of Vivid Characters

As an #OwnVoices author, gay and Latino characters are central to VanPatten’s fiction, and he tackles their issues with such variety: one narrator casually explaining how he was the cause of his uncle’s sudden death after an affair had gone sour and the uncle had turned to a younger cousin; how a dying man addresses what he now finds to be his husband’s infidelity for 20 years; a man pondering coming on to a woman at a bar who he learns is transgender; gay love in the office; twin brothers who share a secret; a tomboy who idolizes Amelia Earhart; and unapproving parents at every turn.

VanPatten’s work tends to feature recurring themes, touching upon everything from the sexual to the racial to the religious to the traditional. Always looking for telltale signs. Always living in fear of disapproval. Always buried in secrets. Always experiencing happiness shrouded in anger.

VanPatten eloquently writes, “The sky was a brazen red, with hints of tangerine – angry, yet also inviting, as though full of passion and ready to reach out from the canvas and invite the viewer to touch its audacity. We marveled at the sight and talked about how it captured the duality of so many people – how they could be both unhappy and impassioned at the same time, how they could carry pain and yet be hopeful, how they could love and also despise.”

Powerful Prose Full of Emotion

In There Go I, Bill VanPatten has not only shown readers a wide array of characters struggling with secrets that define them and searching for ways to release them, but he has provided some wonderful prose, chock full of metaphor and meaning, phrases that make us stop and sigh with joy. Even a simple description of the approaching, deadly fog: “It snakes across the land, slithering down the San Joaquin Valley, a seductive killer cloaked in gray velvetiness prowling for victims. Silently it swallows everything in its path.”

We highly recommend this collection of stories that covers the full spectrum of feelings, from pain to hope. Ultimately, though, says the author,  “I truly believe that everything is possible in life. We simply need to open up our hearts.”

About Bill VanPatten:

Formerly a professor and scholar of language acquisition and bilingualism, Bill VanPatten writes fiction in English and Spanish. His first novel, Seidon’s Tale, received the 2019 Kops-Fetherling International Books Silver Phoenix Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. His second novel, Looks Are Deceiving, has garnered positive reviews from Kirkus, Reedsy Discovery, Prairie Book Reviews, Writer’s Digest, Readers’ Favorite, SPB and Indie Readers, among others. It recently won the Bronze Medal for LGBTQ fiction from Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. His third novel, A Little Rain, has also garnered praise. He also has three collections of short stories. As an #OwnVoices author, gay and Latino characters are central in his fiction. Bill lives in the Central Valley of California. Visit him at his website.

There Go I by Bill VanPatten

Publish Date: 09/26/2022

Genre: Fiction

Author: Bill VanPatten

Page Count: 160 pages

ISBN: 9798354386161

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