Plot: These short stories depict the complexity of humanity’s interaction with what “home” means, be that a location, a person, or a memory. Each story is a brief look into different experiences with a hometown or travels away from familiarity, often begging the question, "From what are we running away or toward?"
Prose/Style: Revolinski’s storytelling is consistently well done from one story to the next; each story has its own flair and tone. Bouncing between first- and third-person storytelling aids the separation of stories for adaptive reading. Some stories read similar to poetry and throughout, the description of simplicity is acutely impressive.
Originality: Revolinski’s ability to elicit a brief moment of multiple characters’ lives in such detail is notable and each story is worth taking time with. Any of these twelve stories could be chronicled at full-length with great interest.
Character Development/Execution: Taking on the difficult task of fully developing characters in short stories, Revolinski has managed to offer depth and complexity to his characters in just a few pages. The characters experience a wide breadth of emotion, including grief and loss, inadequacy, abandonment, curiosity, and the mundane, which carefully alludes to life outside the story.
Date Submitted: July 20, 2021
In the title story, two teenagers plot to escape their unstable families and dead-end town by “selling” their car repeatedly on Craigslist, only to steal it back in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, this scam does not end well–but the real soul of the piece lies in the female narrator’s growing understanding of her complicated relationship with her troubled mother. In “Picking Blueberries”–another standout–a middle-aged man in a small town where “even the church doesn’t feel whole” reflects on his grandfather’s mortality: “Despite his years, he never had that air of waiting to die, but rather waiting for something that never comes …Work defined him, and without it he sank into moments of nonbeing. It was painful to watch.”
In this debut collection, Revolinski–an accomplished food and travel writer and memoirist– proves a keen observer of place, people, and the human condition, particularly the inner turmoil and ennui that accompany coming to terms with life’s harsh realities while still looking with a degree of hope for whatever comes next.
Takeaway: An enthralling, empathetic collection of stories about attempting to make peace with the past while facing uncertain futures.
Great for fans of: Ann Packer, Charles Baxter.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
“With the insight of a world traveler and the heart of a kind Midwestern neighbor, Revolinski's dark, engrossing stories find flickers of hope in a disorienting world. He has a knack for realistic dialogue and an empathetic heart for Midwestern folks on the harder edge of ‘working class.’”
“STEALING AWAY is a lush, shimmering collection, at once globe-trotting and far-afield, and also somehow as intimate and quotidian as any small hometown. Revolinski, an accomplished non-fiction writer, proves with this book that he has incredible range, wisdom, and empathy. I raced through this collection of short stories and can’t wait to read more of Revolinski’s fiction. A fantastic debut.”
“I love Revolinski’s way of writing female characters, which doesn’t belittle them or simply make them objects to look at, but truly makes them fleshed-out human characters with not always predictable motives and actions of their own... He has a nice touch with description, and whatever scene he drops his reader into (and the locations here are not exclusively in the Midwest), you feel like you are really there...”