Rating: 3 stars
As many of you know, BookFetish tries to avoid reviewing story collections of any kind, but I was promised that Laryssa Wirstiuk would be different; and, fans of Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls would become fans of Wirstiuk. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
Less short stories and more like personal essays , Wirstiuk introduces readers to Veda, a Ukranian/American, Catholic, New Jersey girl and art student who provides insight to her fairly PG-rated life.
For the most part Veda is a relatable every-woman who is concerned about the usual issues: body image, boys, sex etc. Basically Veda is just trying to navigate a path to adulthood without taking too much shrapnel in the process.
Though the stories pretty much stand alone, there are a few repetitive threads within them, such as Theo, a boy that goes to Veda’s school who ends up being her partner on an art project and in whom Veda sees a bit more depth than is advertised by his beer-drinking, jock-like façade.
When Veda first meets Theo, she is on a train to visit Arthur, her first love. Arthur, a pharmacy student, is so milquetoast you find yourself cringing as Veda describes their relationship and their near-miss sexual interactions. Though the couple has been dating for a year sex, thus far, has only been in discussion form. While Arthur is game to go all the way, the diplomacy with which they discuss doing the deed—coupled with Veda’s wacky “sex stretches”—creates a clinical debacle that quickly turns into a train wreck.
The book’s title, which refers to controlled fires set to destroy old growth to allow for new growth, is the perfect analogy for the transitions that Veda is and will be experiencing. The stories run the gamut from teen years to young adult. Readers still in this age-range may find comfort in familiarity, while the older generation can relate to this particular period in time with a sigh of relief that those days are well behind them.
Told in no particular order, The Prescribed Burn is a journey back to the awkward days of puberty, first love and the rocky path toward adulthood.
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Painted Egg Press; 1st edition (December 15, 2012)