Dirty Laundry: An Assortment of Messy Lives by Paula Sophia

Dirty Laundry: An Assortment of Messy Lives by Paula Sophia
Publisher: Etopia Press
Genre: Historical, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (226 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Nobody gets away clean.

The remarkable short works collected in Dirty Laundry explore the unraveling of lives at their most intimate moments, the uncomfortable starkness of truth, the unmasking of lies. Whether a cop on the make, a seminary student, or a college kid trying to stay pure, nobody avoids the soil of circumstance. Some try to hide from themselves, others embrace who they truly are. But nobody gets away clean.

Everyone struggles with something. The most interesting thing about this is not that it happens but that almost all of us do it so quietly.

“Pro-Creation” shadowed a police officer named Dana on patrol in a dangerous neighborhood. There has been a lot of upheaval in her personal life, and she’s struggling to figure out how to keep it from interfering with her work. The character development in this tale was strong, especially after Dana moves in to apprehend the suspects she was pursuing. I was even more impressed with how smoothly the ending tied everything together.

Many of the stories in this collection had endings that I had trouble understanding. It was never quite clear to me if they were meant to be ambiguous or if there were clues about the characters embedded in earlier scenes that I’d failed to pick up on. “Terminal Virginity” was a good example of this. The plot followed a college student named Rodney Taylor as he attempts to avoid being dunked in a local lake by his fraternity brothers. This is their tradition for every member on his birthday, but Rodney wants nothing to do with it. I was mystified by a certain topic that kept coming up with his buddies as the main character attempted to avoid a cold, soggy fate. The hints about what was really going on in his life could have supported two different conclusions, yet I was never sure which one was supposed to be true.

The most surprising part of “Cooling Down” was how much information the author was able to pack into it about the narrator and his friend, Ethan. It begins in the middle of an early morning jogging session. Both Ethan and the narrator are so focused on improving their physical fitness that the conversation they suddenly find themselves in the middle of is a shock. The storyline was short and simple, but what the plot does with such an ordinary sequence of events made me wish for a sequel.

I’d recommend Dirty Laundry: An Assortment of Messy Lives to anyone in the mood for something eclectic.

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