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The Philosophy of the Bobby Pin

337 pages5 hours


This collection of sixteen short stories, told out of sequence and in varying tenses, has recurring characters woven throughout, creating an experience that reads more like a novel.

It begins and ends with the stories of Wade Chalmers, waiting for a flight at the airport in Sydney, debating about whether to board his plane or head to the outback to die in the desert.

As the other stories unfold, we gain insight into the cause of Wade’s emotional strife and how an accident on the night of his graduation sixteen years earlier has indirectly linked him to many of the other characters.

Among them, Bronwen Hughes, about to leave for a semester abroad in France, only to discover that her brother Traynor not only totaled her car the night before, but that he fled the scene of the accident, which cost the life of Wade’s high school sweetheart. Bronwen winds up on the run in Europe, even though she wasn’t in the car at the time of the accident.

Or there’s Camden, a friend of Traynor’s, in the car on the night of the accident, whose ongoing attempts at carrying on a normal life with the woman he loves are constantly thwarted by animal attacks, but he can’t tell whether they’re real or all in his head.

Brannen, also in the car with Traynor and Camden the night of the accident, years later drives across country to surprise his girlfriend during spring break from college, only to discover that she’s seeing someone else.

Alternate versions of Wade’s story play out. In one, he decides to go to the outback afterall, but along the way he meets a Sydney businesswoman. They hit it off right away and their instant, yet quirky romance could spell the end of his plan to die in the desert.

Attending a screenwriting group after college in Los Angeles, Traynor is faced with a critique of one of his screenplays, which humiliates him in front of the group. His attempt at getting back at his critic could spell disaster.

Millicent Erstad, a wayward college student, alone on campus during spring break is presented with a couple options for combating her loneliness, one of them being the offer of an affair with her Ethics teacher.

Another version of Wade’s story finds him on the plane back to Los Angeles, on which an encounter with another passenger could lead to admittance to the Mile High Club, but it turns out the other passenger isn’t a stranger after all.

Extreme and uncompromising, those stories and more create a unique, at times serious, other times darkly comedic, reading experience.

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