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An Incomplete List of My Wishes
BY Jendi Reiter

Sunshot Press
October 2018 / ISBN 978-1944977207
Fiction / General / Literary

Reviewed by Leslie C. Halpern


This collection of eleven short stories by award-winning poet and novelist Jendi Reiter focuses mostly on interpersonal relationships and overcoming grief, fear, and isolation. Several stories include gay characters struggling with their homosexuality, and adolescents contemplating how their religious backgrounds fit into their evolving self-image.

The length and style of these stories varies, but an underlying sadness permeates most of them. The language mixes pop culture, erudite allusions, and poetic expression for an interesting combination that requires careful attention. For instance, in the story “An Incomplete List of My Wishes,” a divorced woman onboard an airplane reflects on her experience at a funeral, her divorce, a family member’s death, and the solemn occasion to which she is headed. Most of the story consists of her reflections with no action occurring until the end. Filled with great sadness, flashes of anger, touches of humor, and ultimately, a revelation expressed as a metaphor, this story packs a memorable punch in just 10 pages.

Other stories explore family dynamics, adultery, aging, and infertility, although each selection includes multiple subtexts. For instance, in “Today You Are a Man,” written in a stream of consciousness style, a gay Jewish boy fantasizes about comic book superheroes to help him deal with his tumultuous coming of age, his father’s infidelity, and his shaky understanding of Judaism, marriage, and homosexuality. Usually associated with a Bar Mitzvah, the term “Today You Are a Man” means something different in this story.

Complex and lovely, this collection is the kind of book where readers will stop reading after each story and think about how the characters mirror their own lives. These are stories to be savored.

Reviewed 2018