The Paris Review

Read a new review of Everything, Then and Since in The Paris Review:

In the concise stories that make up Everything, Then and Since, Michael Parker creates worlds that are defined as much by what they exclude as by what they include. Though Parker’s collection is a slim ninety-seven pages, it includes twenty-three stories of impressive variety and emotional complexity. Parker often writes of life on the margins in the South, and some of the best moments come when those margins are brushed by global tragedy, as in “Typingpool” and “Beamon’s Woods,” which are both ultimately about the enduring pain of World War II. The stories range from six pages to the 186-word “Hold On,” an exemplar of the collection. Every word holds particular weight; much is asked of every descriptor. The narrator of “Hold On” gives a recliner-ridden old woman (his mother? his patient?) her first-ever television with a remote: “She held onto that clicker as if it were her first ever doll baby, carved from a corncob by her daddy before the dust kicked up and blew them out of the Panhandle.” Much is told to the reader; much is left for the reader to tell themselves. Indeed, that’s the accomplishment of these stories: they pack a great deal into the pages given to them, and then ask the reader to take it further. They challenge and expand the reader’s imagination, as all good stories ought to do. —Joel Pinckney