Conjugations of the Verb To Be by Glen Chamberlain (September 2011)
If you’re looking to feed your mind with some beautiful and intelligent writing, look no further. Here is a collection of short stories about the universal truths that bind us all: living, loving, and dying.
Written by prize-winning author Glen Chamberlain, all of the stories in Conjugations are set in Montana, and most are set in the small town on Buckle. Chamberlain truly transports her readers to this beautiful setting with her stories of hay stacking, horse breeding, and rural farming. Each story is unique in its own way, but together they form this small but powerful book.
In each of the stories in Conjugations, the characters experience a profound moment in their lives. In “The Tracks of Animals,” a woman searches for her missing husband. In “Horse Thieves,” a farm hand finds meaning in her life when she nurses a sick foal back to health. In “A Mother Writes a Letter to Her Son,” a mother tries to reveal a painful secret to her son, but doesn’t know if she can send him the letter. And in the title story, a teacher wonders if she has wasted her life on a thankless career.
My favorite story was the longest one, “Stacking,” in which three generations of women from the same family experience love and death. I found this story interesting because it hints that these women have a destiny they cannot escape, a sort of cycle that must be completed. It’s almost as if they are predetermined to relive the actions of their foremothers. This story felt so real to me that I could almost smell the hay on the family ranch. It’s a beautifully tragic tale. Another remarkable story is the disturbing ”Twin Bridges, Montana,” in which a group of orphans discover a boy frozen beneath a pond. But instead of being frightened, they come to think of him as a playmate, and come up with stories about who he is and where he comes from.
The connecting threads in Conjugations are life, death, and love, and each character experiences these in a different way. This is a unique group of stories about the things that make us human, with beautiful prose that needs to be read slowly to be appreciated. Moving and well written, this book is perfect for anyone who loves great writing. It would also make a great gift for the literary-minded person in your life.