All That Is Left Is All That Matters: Stories by Mark Slouka


Who knows what somber ancestor had passed on to me this talent, this precocious ear for loss? For a while, because of it, I misheard almost everything.

The stories in this collection are moving and an expression, in a sense, of life and encroaching death be it through grief or aging. In The Hare’s Mask a son is drawn to his father’s past, having been the sole survivor in his family of the Holocaust. It is the saddest in the collection and beautiful. “Even as a kid I wanted to protect him,  and because he saw the danger in this, he did what he could.” The use of a rabbit hutch in the story is disturbing and so beautifully written I felt it long after I finished reading. When two lovers run into each other in Then, much older now, life having run its course the way it should they reminisce, fill each other in about what happened in between their parting, spouses, children. In parting she asks to be remembered as she was “Then”, and he does, sharing with the reader their passion like a blazing fire. Youth too is a burning, as painful as deep love. Time feasts on us, and we’re never quite as painfully alive as the early years.

Russian Mammoths reminds us everything is taken away from us without mercy. Working in a garden, the narrator interacts with Ecuadorian children who wait by the fence for the bus every morning, until tragedy strikes. These are each beautiful and affecting, it is at times the living and dying we all face that haunts us more than any wildly crafted tale.

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

W.W. Norton & Company



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