Old Crimes: And Other Stories

Algonquin. Jan. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9781616209735. $27. F
McCorkle’s fifth short story collection gathers loosely connected narratives of fairly ordinary people who have endured life-changing circumstances. Through their stories, McCorkle delivers a balance of humor, warmth, poignancy with remorse, even atonement, and illustrates her characters’ intense longing to connect to others, especially those from the past. Consider “The Lineman,” in which a telephone lineman ruminates over the past misdeeds that led to the demise of his marriage and the impact of all things digital—his ex-wife has taken up with a professor of digital communications. Another standout is “Sparrow,” whose narrator, a newly divorced mother of two, is navigating her new life in a new town. She attends her son’s Little League game, ostensibly to meet others and learn more about her community. McCorkle’s depiction of the fans at the game is spot on and yet still manages to surprise.
VERDICT Great short story writers encapsulate and distill the experience and emotions of a character in what amounts to a mini-novel. McCorkle demonstrates why she is considered a virtuoso of the form. This new collection will not disappoint her bevy of fans and may introduce some new readers to her flock of followers.
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