Winding down late one night this weekend, I curled up with Delancey Stewart’s short story collection Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001. This compilation of shorts focuses on the lives of many people who all possibly lived in the same brownstone apartment, but at various decades.
When we think about that concept, we ponder what must each of their lives have been like based on what was happening during each segment of history? Her collection gives us fleeting glimpses into this question. Of course it’s the very first story, but I actually liked “1910: The Hidden Legacy” the best. I loved this one due to the fact that I am very into social justice. I like any stories or books that deal with class distinction and issues stemming from social stigma. This story dealing with a little girl and a doll really touched my heart. I loved the ending to it. It would be great to see this story turning into a longer novella or full-length novel.
I liked some of the other stories too, of course, and their tie-in with historical time periods, though some were terribly sad. I suppose in those cases, the time periods in that New York area was….however, some of the endings of the stories I felt came to an abrupt halt. I suppose maybe I just wanted more to the story and we can’t always have happy endings. These slices told a day in the life of her characters and captured through their sadness the faults of the world seen through their eyes, or “windows.”
I also liked “The Harbinger: 1953” though probably due to being interested in women of this time period who were actually put in very terrible situations in mental hospitals due to slight depression. Misjudged and ironic as the cases were sometimes, Stewart brings this to light in the story. A slight more lengthy, this one had well-developed characters and she rounded out a thought-provoking ending.
The collection is a very quick read. Perfect for sitting down with a cup of tea for an hour. I loved how Stewart gave us a bird’s-eye view of each family who passed life in this New York Apartment, then tied it all together in the last story of the collection. But I don’t want to spoil it for you by sharing how she does it. You should definitely download this short story collection and see for yourself.
Stop by again tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Delancey Stewart where we talk about her stories, history, and women in history. See you then!
Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 Synopsis~
Publication Date: November 15, 2012
It’s impossible to live in a city like New York without feeling the presence of those who have preceded you – on those streets, in those subway cars, in that apartment. The city thrums with vibrations of lives and eras passed, and traces of that history are left imprinted in tangible ways everywhere we look.
Through a Dusty Window is a collection of ten short stories spanning a century of lives inhabiting one New York City brownstone on the Upper West Side. They are the culmination of the author’s experience in that city, during which she wondered constantly who had occupied her apartment before her, and what stories they might have lived.
Ten vignettes offer historical perspective on real events from Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder.
Through a Dusty Window allows us to be voyeurs, seeing the fascinating lives of others as they experience the history that New Yorkers today hear whispers of around every corner.
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Praise for Through a Dusty Window
“I found this series of short stories to be delightful and read them in one sitting. I was impressed with the author’s free flowing style which captivated me and drew me into the imagery of the book. I was particularly aware of the evolution of the social culture and I felt that the transition between the times of each story was handled well.” – Jean Roberts, Amazon Review
“Every story was very well written (my favorite involved the Hindenberg) and my only complaint is that a few of them, such as the last one, ended too soon. This is a compliment, however, because it means I wanted more, much more.” – John Darling (Author Jack Point) – Amazon Review
Delancey Stewart, Biography~
Delancey Stewart is a fiction writer living in Southern Maryland. She’s a military spouse and the mother of two small boys. When not writing, she can be found ballet dancing, eating ice cream, playing video games or building with Legos.
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