Springtime on Mars is a collection of stories that has nothing to do with science fiction, despite the title. The stories are grounded in the reality of the minute details of everyday life. It almost seems like the most intriguing stories in this collection are toward the end of the book. I am not sure if that is true or if it is just that Woodring’s writing began to resonate more with me at that point.
The stories that really struck me were the ones where a life changing event occurred. In “The Neighbors” two couples experience significant events on the same day. One husband is hit by lightning. Woodring deftly describes how he can’t recognize his wife. “Mainly, he wondered who was this woman who leaned over him holding a plastic cup of water to his lips. She smelled like a coin, warm and moist in the palm of his hand, but he couldn’t trust his senses since the water tasted like copper.” (pg 158) I could almost taste that coppery tang while reading those lines.
Woodring also places the stories in context around historical happenings. In the story entitled “Radio Vision” JFK has been shot. A few days later a woman is electrocuted in her basement. It is interesting to think that even while our nation was in mourning for the president, accidents and tragedies that did not make the headlines must have had huge impacts on individual families or communities and were sort of under the shadow of the larger national event. I did wish that this story continued and dealt more with the aftermath of this woman’s death on her nine-year-old twins.
The title story in this collection is definitely worth reading. It is available on the author’s website. Woodring’s strengths include that she can write from the point-of-view of an elderly man or a young girl and make you believe it, and I think she has a very subtle yet illuminating way of capturing a tragedy on paper.
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