A disclaimer - if it wasn't already clear that I am a reviewer that revels in his biases and fancies, then let me make it clear that this review is going to be heavily heavily biased. That said, I still honestly believe everyone should read this book. . .
Delia De Santis is the mother of one of my oldest friends. In fact, the artwork of said oldest friend graces the cover of this book. As such, I feel almost obligated to at least like this book. Furthermore, Delia (I still have a hard time not calling her Mrs. De Santis) is a really nice person that I've enjoyed knowing for all these years.
What's the catch, you might ask? Is there something wrong with the book? Is the reviewer going to suppress all of his critical faculties and just write nice things about a book written by a nice person?
Turns out I don't have to confront these issues. Fast Forward is a really great collection of stories. Packing 24 stories into 150 pages, this is a collection that quickly grasps the heart of pain and longing and regret.
It's funny. When I read a poetry collection, I am always jamming little pieces of paper into the spines so I can come back later to the poems that really grabbed me. With this collection, I wound up doing the same thing. With this as a guide, my favourite stories from this collection are: "Snow on the Roofs", "A Little Visiting", "Faces in the Window" and "Visions". Thumbing through the collection again, though, I notice there are probably more stories that deserve their own scrap but that's ok. I'm sure my favourites will change on re-reading.
There seems to be a sense of melancholy that weaves its way through these stories. Aging, regret and loss weigh heavily upon these tales. The characters are almost entirely Italian or Italian-Canadian (Delia immigrated to Canada when she was a teenager) and while the stories aren't necessarily about a culture clash, there is plenty of friction as old ways meld with new. Of course, like the best stories, these are not just immigrant tales. These are stories of people with problems and they resonate just as well with people of all backgrounds.
What amazed me while reading this collection was how short many of the stories really are. Sometimes, they are little more than a page, page and a half. And yet, the tales are deep and fulfilling. I found myself chewing over the details of even the shortest stories long after I had put the book down.
If you're looking for a copy of this book, it can be ordered from chapters.