Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash

stay up with meTom Barbash writes short stories about relationships and how they change the people involved.  His stories are about lovers, separation, outsiders, and deception.

In “Paris,” a reporter has to deal with the angry citizens of a town when he writes a human interest article about the town.  In “The Break,” a doting woman finds her college son’s choice of love interest questionable.  The would-be real estate developer in “Somebody’s Son”  gains the trust of an elderly couple as he steals antiques from them and bilks them out of their farm.  And the son in “January” thinks his mom’s boyfriend, full of bluster, is superficial and untrustworthy, and they are all challenged on the icy surface of a winter road.

There are several more, all testing the waters of tragedy and trust.

Stay Up With Me is a downer of a book in some ways. Pat endings are not the norm in this collection. There’s more than one where the future of the protagonist is in question, often in the wording of the last sentence.  Barbash’s characters can be sympathetic, and sometimes just pathetic.  Still, read on.  There’s no supernatural here, no fantastical elements – just the well-written oddities of the human condition.

Most of these stories take place in New York, whether in the city itself, or in the remoter regions of the state.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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