By Ekta R. Garg
Release date: March 8, 2021
Genre: Literary short stories
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A young swimmer gets in the water only to have the race cut short. A camper takes his girlfriend on a romantic trip just before they get caught in a mudslide. A grieving husband tries to make sense of losing his wife to a drunk driver then picks up a drunk hitchhiker. These plots and more fill author Ryan R. Campbell’s debut short story collection And Ampersand.
Campbell examines loss in every story. The eight pieces run the gamut from the literary—such as the title story “And Ampersand”—to more straightforward narratives. In “A Final Gift,” a man sorts through the jackets in his late father’s closet as he tries to process his grief.
All of the stories carry weight in their plots as well as their prose. In “Glassed,” a person who struggles to share personal space observes:
“I’m supposed to like it when people touch me. This is the same as hugs and not fidgeting and, as you tell me now, eye contact, but you’re there, still there, whether I look or not. And I’d rather not.”
The book is a crossroads of beautiful writing and situations worth pondering. Campbell doesn’t hesitate to go straight to the heart of hard situations but does it with such elegance that readers will want to reread every story. I recommend readers Bookmark And Ampersand.