Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Dust of the Universe by V.S. Kemanis

Hello, hello :)

It's been a while since I've posted a review! I just finished reviewing a collection of short stories entitled Dust of the Universe, by V.S. Kemanis. This is the first time I have reviewed a book of short stories, and it is done in a slightly different format, so bear with me! I will give a short review and rating for each story followed by an overall review and rating.

My Latvian Aunt: This was my favorite story and the best of the collection to open with. It revolves around the relationship between the narrator and her Aunt Mirdza, who she only knew for a short time due to a rift between Mirdza and the narrator's father. I must say, the author really has a way with words, and I thought that many descriptions in this story were simply lovely. Additionally, the ending was quite surprising and somewhat bittersweet. I felt that it was the perfect ending, and that the characters had come full circle. 5 stars!

Like Love: Interesting and well-written story, about a man named Harold, who receives a phone call from a Mr. Stanley Bridgeman, who informs him that their wives are having an affair. I feel that the relationships between the characters were well developed, and that Harold's conflicting emotions were captured perfectly. This story was a little depressing at times, but ended on a more uplifting note. I enjoyed this story a lot. 4 stars.

The Zephyr: About a young girl dealing with her new step-father and step-siblings. Wonderfully written story, which accurately captured the young narrator's confusion about her new family. There were some points, however, where I got a little confused. Overall, I still enjoyed it very much. 4 stars. 

Tidal Waters: About a family trip to the beach, and on dealing with an adolescent daughter. This story wasn't my favorite at first, mostly because I disliked Carly and Becca, but the characters grew on me. I also liked the ending and felt that it was well-executed. 4 stars.

Everything We Do: This is another of my favorites in the collection. Revolves around two sisters, helping their father to deal with the loss of their mother. Raises the important point that you don't have to be related by blood to be family. A beautifully written story, which made me laugh and tear up at many points. 5 stars. 

Lucky: About a single mother raising a child with special needs. Another favorite. I absolutely loved this story, and felt that the relationship between Marion and her daughter Jenny, was very realistic. 5 stars. 

Nothing Intentional: About Pressler, a married middle-aged lawyer, and a co-worker, Rachel Morehouse, who gets under his skin. This story was a little confusing at times. I still enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the others. 3.5 stars. 

Dust of the Universe: Loved this story. Kip's emotions regarding his family were captured perfectly. Another story that had me tearing up, due to the ending! 5 stars.

Conversation with a Biker: I enjoyed this story more than I expected to. I felt that the story arc was nicely done, with the narrator coming full circle, and with the story ending on a hopeful note. I also loved that the narrator was able to look past the stereotypes and her initial judgments to have a meaningful conversation with the biker. Nicely done! 5 stars. 

What I'd Like to Say: A woman reflects on her relationship with her older, once idolized brother. Very lovely and very sad. Another favorite, as I very much enjoyed the style of the story. 5 stars. 

Stolen Afternoon: Ginger visits her Grandfather. I enjoyed the conversations Ginger had with her Grandpa, and felt that the characters were well-developed. The ending of this story felt a little incomplete to me, but overall I enjoyed it. 4 stars. 

A Love-Hate Thing: I didn't expect to like this story, because I didn't like Darla so much, but she grew on me. I felt that it accurately depicted the character's difficulties in dealing with her mother's terminal illness, and her methods of coping. The ending was again well-executed. 5 stars. 

Reckoning: About the friendship between an accountant and his customer, during an audit. Not my favorite story, but I liked it, and I felt that the characters were well-developed. 3.5 stars. 

At the Crypt: about two sisters at their father's funeral, and their encounter with the mother of a childhood friend. I felt that the sisters' emotions were accurately depicted, as well as their contrasting methods of coping with their loss. I didn't love Agnes, however. 4 stars. 

Schizophrenia Indicated: wonderful story, with an unexpected ending! I thought the ending of this story was going to be much darker. I liked the characters very much. 5 stars. 

Occupational Hazards: very cute story, and a realistic portrayal of a family dealing with some stressful situations. Another favorite! I really liked Sandra, the main character. 5 stars.

Overall Rating (this is not an average of the above ratings!): 5 stars

As a whole, I loved this short story collection, so I could not give it any less than 5 stars. I enjoyed several stories, especially the first and last one, immensely, and still felt that the others were very well done. The collection is a very realistic look at different families and their varied situations and struggles. Several stories had unexpected (and pleasantly surprising) endings. In technical terms, the book was well-written, and well-executed, with no typos or grammatical errors. I look forward to reading more of this author's work!

Happy Reading,


  1. Of my three collections, "Dust of the Universe" is closest to my heart. I'm so glad you enjoyed the stories and appreciate the care and attention you paid to each and every one!
    Thank you, ChaiTime!
    V.S. Kemanis

  2. You are very welcome, and I look forward to reading more of your work :)