Unforgettable: Short Stories
The nine stories in UNFORGETTABLE: SHORT STORIES are about the presence of the past, the power of memory, and the enduring nature of love. They follow Miriam Batson, the protagonist of Paulette Alden’s earlier collection, FEEDING THE EAGLES, into middle age, as she navigates such experiences as the suicide attempt of a student of hers; the death of a beloved maid from her Southern childhood; the shock and anger resulting from a job rejection possibly due to sex discrimination; and the sudden death of her father. Five of the stories track Miriam’s efforts to stave off putting her mother in a nursing home, as her mother succumbs to Alzheimer’s. Anyone who has experienced such a situation will relate to the poignancy, guilt, and sometimes painful humor involved in caring for a failing parent.
Excerpt from "Unforgettable: Short Stories"
“Miriam lay down on the dock, feeling the weight of her heart, how it sank down down down into the dark, the cold. She was so tired! It felt as if she had been struggling for years—well, the three years she’d been taking care of her mother. She has been bailing and bailing, and still her mother was sinking. If only she could rest a moment . . . The worn wood of the dock felt so soothing, so warm. She shut her eyes. Summer days, lost lakes, memories, her mother, everything flowed together in the soothing murmur of water all around her. For some timeless time she floated there, neither asleep nor awake. Maybe dying wasn’t so bad after all. After the long struggle, the holding on. But then the letting go . . .The sense of being held up, received . . . Miriam opened her eyes. How blue the sky was, a whole lake itself! The blue of memory, the blue of forgetting, a whole blue lake of eternity, where nothing was ever ended, nothing was ever lost. She thought of her dead and felt them to be with her. They floated through her memory like beautiful white clouds.”
Readers' Responses to "Unforgettable: Short Stories"
“The first four stories in Unforgettable, Alden’s new–and wonderful–story collection, are about experiences that had important emotional impacts for her. The last five, some of which are heartbreaking, follow her persona Miriam’s journey as her mother ages . . . The small touches Alden writes about will resonate with everyone who’s cared for a parent . . . Some fiction is so “real” you stop reading when a scene knocks you out with familiarity. ‘Yes,’ you’ll say to yourself, ‘that’s exactly the way it was for my family.’” Mary Ann Grossmann, Books Editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Alden tenderly conveys the overwhelming difficulties and small joys of being the primary caregiver for a loved one . . .every reader will find at least one aspect of these stories to be . . . simply unforgettable.” Rebecca Foster, Bookkaholic: a Book Magazine
” . . .a collection of short stories beautifully rendered and filled with universal truths about the human experience. . . It is the first short story collection I have read in a long, long time where I felt transported, consumed and moved by each story . . . The consistent thread throughout . . . is a single protagonist, Miriam Batson. Although these are short stories–each one its own song–the continual presence of this character’s point of view creates a larger unified and increasingly consuming song cycle.”
“I read this book in almost one sitting. The author has a way of immediately engaging the reader. These stories come from the heart, and I was totally absorbed by each one.”
“What is most wonderful in Unforgettable, Paulette Alden’s new collection of short stories, is her voice. I kept thinking of Faulkner’s word on accepting the Nobel Prize for literature so long ago. Alden’s is a voice I would follow anywhere. As I read her stories, I felt as if she were giving voice to thoughts and feelings I’d had, but can not quite articulate–certainly not with her vivid eloquence.”
“Having just gone through three excruciating years dealing with my mother-in-law’s decline into dementia, I found Paulette Alden’s Unforgettable to be a guidebook of how to comprehend grief and loss, how to understand transitions, how to make meaning and sense of our human condition. Deft and direct, this is a book that sneaks up on you. On the surface, everything seems so simple, so ordinary–dare I say it?–so human. You know the feeling: “This could be my story. How does she know my life so well?” But beneath the surface is great depth and dimension and ultimately the deep wisdom that comes with self acceptance. . . Unforgettable is a tribute to the human spirit’s ability to soar, a perfect example of how literature can transform the quotidian into precious illumination.”
“With her deceptively plain and straightforward style–ordinary words, clear sentences, perfect paragraphs, Paulette Alden leaves masterpieces in the wake of her telling. These stories are intimate, honest on every level, and sweet, but never sentimental. Without the posturing or artifice so often encountered in contemporary fiction, Alden suddenly and matter-of-factly breaks your heart, again and again.”