SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1601 In the Mean Time, by Paul Tremblay Book Review |

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In the Mean Time, by Paul Tremblay
Genre: Fantasy Anthology
Publisher: Chizine Publications
Published: 2010
Review Posted: 10/12/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

In the Mean Time, by Paul Tremblay

Book Review by Ivana Reynolds-Boyle

Have you read this book?

In the Mean Time is a compilation of fifteen short stories written by Paul Tremblay. Each story is distinct from the next although there are common themes of turmoil and transition, which are alluded to by the title of the book.

The Teacher: The opening story is about a high school girl, Kate, and her unconventional teacher, Mr. Sorent. Kate goes through a transformation, both in attitude and perspective, as she and her classmates progress through Mr. Sorent's questionable curriculum.

The Two-Headed Girl: Trembley's second story is about Veronica, a precocious young girl whose second head turns into that of historical women. Veronica is raised by her mother and never knew her father. When she begins to ask questions about him, her mother becomes elusive.

The Strange Case of Nicholas Thomas: An Excerpt from A history of the Longesian Library: Notes from Nicholas Thomas chronicle his plan to study the mysterious red Balloons of Annotte that come once every 19 years. Some say the balloons are good and some say they are evil. Things get even more confusing when Nicholas anonymously receives a recently published article on the balloons written by his deceased mother who died 18 years earlier.

Feeding the Machine: The protagonist of this story is an unnamed pregnant lesbian woman who suffers from Pica, a disorder where she compulsively eats non-food items. Her thoughts and actions are narrated as the morning uncomfortably passes between her and her partner, Cassie, whose diary she has recently read. The story repeatedly transitions to tell the series of explanations her doctor gave for her Pica episodes. The circumstances of her pregnancy are also revealed as the story progresses.

Figure 5:Anderbine, a Ministry official, has completed four Figure drawings of a woman, Midria. Each Figure depicts Midria as she progresses through a different phase of a plague that has struck the city. Only one phase remains for Midria to morph through and everyday Anderbine faithfully observes her from above as she passes through the sea of the other quarantined victims. The final transformation is revealed, as is the importance of this one woman to Anderbine.

Growing Things: A father and his two young daughters, Angie and Florida, are caged in their home in an apocalyptic scenario where growing things have spread and stifled everything. Angie, the older of the two girls, tells stories of the growing things to her sister. Their father leaves the house, braving the growing things, to try to replenish their depleted supply of food and water. He leaves the girls with firm instructions to not open the door and that "Knocking means the world is over!" With their father gone and nearly out of food and water, the girls get by as best they can with the threat of the growing things ever looming.

Harold the Spider Man: After the prolonged sickness and sudden death of his wife, Harold begins populating his house with spiders. At first, it was just with the few spiders that have found their way inside on their own. Then he transplanted them himself from the outside into his home. Then it is by the carton-load.

Rhymes with Jew: Two young Jewish men want Dianne to help them get to the Blue States from the Red States. She tells them the story of her first case as a caseworker: the story of Sandra, a young single mother living in extreme poverty, and her infant son, Drew. Sandra's one goal is to get to the Blue States so she can get a better life for her son and she asks Dianne for help.

The Malborough Man Meets the End: As the city burns around them all, Stephen Lee watches as his older brothers set the billboard of Malborough Man on fire.

The Blog at the End of the World: Becca Gilman blogs about the death of her close friend and the series of deaths that have taken place all across the country. Some of those who post on the blog add their own stories; some think she is just another person playing into a ridiculous conspiracy theory. Or is something more supernatural going on?

The People Who Live Near Me: After the death of his father, George stands at the end of the street. The protagonist analyzes George and tries to figure him out. He wants to know George's story and to understand why George sits at then end of the street and slowly picks away the pavement

There's No Light Between Floors: Two people stuck in a dark cramped place. They are calm and confused as if they have no context for who they are or how they got there. As the woman begins to speak of the old gods that have been forgotten, other tries to make his way through the darkness and towards the gods.

Headstones in Your Pocket: After stopping a truck of illegal immigrants, Boarder Patrol Agent Joe Marquez discovers a man has a tooth belonging to his son wrapped in tinfoil. Joe pockets the tooth and forgets to return the tooth to the man before he is deported. This tooth brings back old and disturbing memories for Joe and his childhood friend, Jody.

It's Against the Law to Feed the Ducks: A young boy, Danny, and his family go on a weekend vacation to the beach. Something ominous is happening as the parents watch the news and the small vacation town becomes deserted.

We Will Never Live in the Castle: A boy lives in an amusement park post the great panic and collapse of civilization. After meeting a girl, Joyce, who is new to his part of the park, they conspire to take the coveted Cinderella Castle. After an initial failed attempt to storm the castle, he takes the attack to a whole new level.
Tremblay has a skilled way of writing stories that linger in the readers mind. He is able to take characters in out-of-the-ordinary situations and tell their tale in an unusual and relatable way. The stories leave the reader to speculate and wonder about the scenarios, characters, and eventual—but unwritten—outcomes.
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