“For years, people imagined they saw canals dug into the planet’s surface. They called these canals proof of life. They worried what intelligent life on Mars might mean to us earthlings, to our safety. But, it was nothing. An optical illusion a cosmic misprint. There’s no life. There’s nothing.” -From Springtime on Mars, page 112-
Susan Woodring’s wonderful book of short stories is a joy to read. They are linked in theme – women growing older and looking back on their lives; loss and hope; the idea of gravity keeping our feet on the ground; searching for meaning somewhere between science and God. All Woodring’s stories take place among ordinary people and families – but they are at the same time people who are extraordinary without realizing it. They could be any one of us. And that perhaps is where these stories gain their power.
Woodring writes with an eye on the small details of life and explores the every day push and pull of relationships. There is sadness mingled in her characters’ lives, but also a twinkle of hope and meaning. I especially liked her female characters – women who still were looking for their dreams.
I believe: love deep, give marshmallows and other treats to children, and sleep as long and often as you can, but wake early, eat breakfast. I’m sixty-eight years old; I’m not going backward. -From Morning Again, page 27-
Woodring has had her short stories published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies. She is also the author of the novel The Traveling Disease. This collection was published by a small press: Press 53. If you only read one collection of short stories this year, I would recommend this one. Beautifully crafted with a deep sense of American life and what it means to be human, Springtime on Mars will captivate you.
My thanks to Susan Woodring for sending me a signed copy of her book.