Publisher: Thistledown Press
Released: September 15, 2011
Genre: short stories
Review copy from publisher
These urban, commuter-friendly stories capture quirky events in satisfying ways. Their dark undertones and sharp-witted ironies employ familiar settings such as apartments, lofts, studios and city streets , but use unusual and unexpected urban moments as backdrops to outré characters and their given idiosyncrasies.
Some of Hayes’ characters are on the social fringe, such as the mentally challenged narrator of the title story who finds his way through urban life with the aid of his seventy-year-old neighbour and the possibilities inherent in a game of chess. Some obsess privately, such as the protagonist in “The Runner” who becomes neurotically repulsed by the hair follicles on his girlfriend’s upper lip, while others, like the proven street ball “cager” of the story “In the Low Post” stews over his eroding prestige and control on the inner-city basketball court.
Edgy, smart and unpredictable, Derek Hayes’ stories bend linear story-telling, and shift the narrative voices with such an energetic frequency that readers will want to go back again just to them just to see how he does it.
Maybe it’s because I’m more than a little off-centered myself, but I love reading about weird, awkward, marginal characters. And Derek Haye’s The Maladjusted is filled to the brim with them.
I think it’s so cool that the way he wrote each short story was so straightforward and open that just the telling was enough for me be sympathetic towards the characters. He didn’t delve too much into explaining why a certain character was on the fridge: he told their story and just the simple fact of seeing how they handle themselves in a certain situation was enough to get a solid feel for the character.
And he never made any of the characters a caricature. There were no arch-types in this book, nope. And I loved that sometimes the one that you thought was the maladjusted actually wasn’t.
I have no problem admitting that I identified with quite a few of the characters and what they were going through and how they were dealing with it. And I think that’s part of the brilliance of this book. Cuz really we’re all a little maladjusted.