Review: The Witch Bottle and Other Stories by Suzanne Feldman

☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

From Depression era Mississippi to the suburbs of modern America, to the trials and tribulations of smart young women struggling to make a name for themselves in the arts, Feldman delves deep into the dreams and emotions of regular people and makes them beautiful and accessible. 

This prize-winning collection of short stories and two novellas, offers entrancing tales of redemption, betrayal, tradition, and rebellion. These narratives range in mood from “The Lapedo Child,” a tale of discovery and liberation, to “The Witch Bottle,” a comic examination of a pair of obsessed next-door neighbors. “Untitled Number 20” explores life among women artists at the end of the Flower Power era and the beginning of the Seventies. “The Stages” is a meditation on one woman’s struggle for dignity in the face of divorce and untreatable cancer. Whether it’s the end of a marriage, or a struggle for fame, these works probe issues that give us that “shock of recognition” that is the hallmark of great art-wonderful, absorbing fiction that will be read and reread for decades to come.


Guest Reviewer Frannie’s Thoughts:

The Witch Bottle is a collection of six short stories:  Untitled #20Self PortraitsThe Witch BottleThe StagesThe Lapedo Child, and Goat Island. Each one address a profound part of our life and our culture.  In Untitled #20 it address women’s rights and the inevitable conflict between men and women, along with their likes and dislikes. Self Portraits takes an in-depth look at a woman who is searching to find herself and her struggle to free herself from others’ opinions of her paintings, her work as a painter and a person. The Witch Bottle is a fascinating story about a man who must deal with his irrational behavior toward a neighbor whom he decides is a witch. She does not conform to his opinion of normal, so he sets out to expose and destroy her. His paranoia and convoluted thoughts bring him to a shocking realization about himself and the twist at the end is enlightening. The Stages deals with cancer, infidelity, motherhood, first love and death. It explores the stages one must go through to prepare for the loss of your own life, as well as how it effects other family members and friends. The Lapedo Child explores the challenges of growing up in the depression, becoming a self-sufficient young man and dealing with adversity along with abandonment and loneliness. It also delves into the prejudices between Negros and Whites within our culture. The ability to grow and see people for who they are regardless of the color of their skin.  Goat Island is set in Texas and explores the struggles of poverty, being Mexican and/or Native American, and the struggles of drug and alcohol addiction. It explores a young woman’s endeavors to address her failings, her relationship with her family and her search to find her inner self.    

Each story is poignant. None of them have a “happy ever after” ending. The conclusions are genuine although uncomfortable sometimes.  They are emotionally unprocessed, and the authors’ descriptions are authentic in their complexity. The writing is powerful and captivating. It is exceedingly difficult to put the book down. The reader will find themselves hungry for the next story and the perplexities they will provide.  These short stories are deliciously rich.  As a reader you will want to gobble them up.  Once you have finished one, you will want to ponder the meanings behind the impressions that the authors provided and introspectively look at yourself and your attitudes toward these certain situations. What would you do? How would you respond or react to the circumstances? 

A page turner to say the least, this collection of stories is a must read, contemplate and ponder.  I recommend them all highly. 



About the Author: Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her short fiction has appeared in NarrativeThe Missouri ReviewGargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland, and can be contacted through her website for virtual readings and book club visits: 

© Copyright 2022 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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