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Doll Palace Stories by Sara Lippmann

They say never judge a book by its cover, but what first drew me to Sara Lippmann’s Doll Palace Stories was its beautiful cover of paper dolls that had one damaged one.

Damage could describe most of the stories in this collection, but the stories cover a vast emotional landscape- of lost innocence, past relationships, inability to deal with grief different ways of dealing with it, loneliness, alienation and of love, hopes and desires. You get drawn into the world of those 23 stories and even though you may not understand the places the protagonists come from, there is a sense of terrible empathy for them all. You almost wish they would see the beauty and incredible luck in their lives.

The stories haunt you long after you are done with them. The sadness in the young woman in ‘Whipping Post’ who loses her virginity and the song that reminds her of that day; ‘Reunion’ where the woman meets her ex and thinks of the time when ‘before all of that it was just us’;’Doll Palace’ as a woman navigates her internal world while she accompanies her niece and daughter through the over-the-top materialistic American Girl style girl’s birthday party complete with a costumes, make up and spa for the plastic dolls, and the endless sugar injections through cupcakes and pastry. ‘Tomorrowland’ where in the happy neverland of Disney World, a young mother had never thought ‘anyone could see pregnant skin as potential’ when she met her husband who promised to love her child as his own, and yet feels like a slut and worries that her daughter will meet a nice man.

There are some stories that compel a re-reading because you can’t figure the layering at first go. In this collection ‘The Jew’ and ‘The Last Resort’ were those stories for me.

Sara Lippmann has that unique ability to write a short story, and litter it with gems of sentences that sum up the whole story, or could be starting points for a brand new one.
– ‘It is not the full story, but I can fill in the rest.’
‘Somewhere, it must be written: Tell a little sister she’s hotter than cooler than more badass than her older sister and she will do anything to make it feel true.’
‘People see what they want and sometimes that’s double, but actually it is all part of the act.’
‘Everything she had ever built had caved in, helpless against her handling.’
‘Her face collapses the dam of memory.’
‘Because his pain was greater than mine, because I believed you could contain and shape things like loss.’
‘With girls, the posturing is relentless, coupled by competition and the constant worry of being good enough.’

The Doll Palace left me wondering why Sara Lippmann stopped at only 23 stories when there was potential for so many more!

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About Preeti Singh

I am a bookaholic. I love stories, storytelling. I enjoy helping people structure their storytelling, and I love to share the stories I discover.

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This entry was posted on November 13, 2014 by in Book Reviews, Fiction, short stories, Short Stories and tagged , , .
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