Book Review by Stephen Geez
Strange HWY marks another big step in author Beem Weeks’s evolution as a serious literary writer. This collection continues his tradition of finding that moment that matters, then crafting a tale around it and daring us to look closely at the truth. Excepting the insightful and gently provocative essay “Memory of a Robot,” all of these richly textured pieces are masterworks of short fiction. Some, such as “Alterations,” are narrated by their characters in the first person. Mr. Weeks finds their distinctive voices with a raw empathy and flavorful diction of a kind rarely found except in works by A.M. Homes, Edmund White, and T.C. Boyle. “Constant as the Day” showcases an even rarer talent: He allows a character to narrate in the 2nd person, speaking to us in the reading audience as if we are one of the people in the story—a story ultimately about all of us. His 3rd-person entries, including the poignant look at budding relationships in “Dodging the Bullet,” sing with an intimate point of view that lets us feel as the characters do.
Author Weeks explores a range of topics from suicide and death to addiction and relationships. He is especially deft at looking at how young people experience realities that are new every day and yet the “same-old same-old” of constants that never change. I give Strange HWY my highest recommendation, one earned robustly. If you love immersing yourself in the finest that short literary fiction offers, this book is for you. If you’re new to the genre, Mr. Weeks offers a most impressive collection that says something about who we are and how we interact with our various and shifting worlds.
Beem Weeks is the author of short stories, poems, essays, and novels. Among his literary influences he counts Daniel Woodrell, Barbara Kingsolver, and Stephen Geez. A pop-culture trivia buff, Beem’s passions include indie films, loud music, and a well-told story. He has also penned a collection of short stories entitled Slivers of Life and the novel Jazz Baby.