Get a Grip by Kathy Flann
This post was written by contributing writer Laura Brackin.
Kathy Flann’s writing has seen no shortage of prizes. As the 2014 winner of the George Garrett Prize, her short story collection Get a Grip (Texas Review Press, 2015) follows in the award-winning tradition of her earlier work. With engaging characters and honest insights, Flann creates meaningful stories with relatable themes which are sure to touch readers of all interests and backgrounds.
While each story in Get a Grip deals with relationships—between parent and child, husband and wife, siblings, colleagues—there is also a common thread weaving themes regarding forgiveness, self-worth and the value of people to each other, pride, and greed. Flann shows us various sides of these struggles and how they can look different depending on points of view. In “Half a Brother,” Malev Karu feels guilt over the greed that drives his actions, while the Meteorite Man from “Heaven’s Door” doesn’t recognize his drive as greed at all. Flann’s ease with words and honest glimpses into the characters’ secret thoughts lead the reader into these situations with Malev and the Meteorite Man without questioning the experience.
Flann uses second-person narration masterfully in “Neuropathy,” awaking the reader, moment by moment, to the story as it unfolds. In this way, she takes “you” on a journey where vibrant detail opens the world around the reader. In other stories such as “Heaven’s Door” and “Leaving Reno,” the third-person omniscient narrator allows for greater understanding of each character by revealing thoughts and insights that would otherwise go untouched.
Get a Grip is rich with a fully developed, honestly portrayed parade of strong characters, each with distinct voices and their own identities. The raw, tired emotions of the mother of a teenaged boy in “Leaving Reno” touch a place so true, yet also taboo, candor being its own reward as a sort of catharsis. Such empathy is also felt with Alexander’s experience of frustration in “Little Big Show” and the Meteorite Man’s excitement in “Heaven’s Door.”
Kathy Flann writes with a grace that turns the pages, and her stories entice the reader to linger with their thoughts, even beyond the last word.
Laura Brackin is a student at Sam Houston State University where she studies in the MFA program for Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing. She works part time with the Texas Review Press and desires to work as an editor upon graduation, while also building a career as a prose writer. She lives in The Woodlands with her husband, two teenaged kids, and her English pointer.