Publication Date: July 28, 2014
In The “She” Stands Alone by Nadine Keels, Sheridan Jones fell in love in college only to have her heart broken. The dating pool is shallow so Sheridan decides that her best option is to simply date herself.
The author, Nadine Keels, gave me a copy of this novelette in exchange for my review.
The “She” Stands Alone is a 38-page story that reads like spoken word. For most of the first part of this novelette as we are acquainted with Sheridan’s backstory; I couldn’t help but imagine someone sitting on a stage and captivating people with the poetic nature of the prose. An example is Sheridan’s decryption of David Franklin, “… it was all so romantic, really, when I thought about it. Picture tallish, chocolate-dipped specimen of unaffected charisma and looker-to-end-all-lookers.” There’s an elegant drama in that way that Keel’s writes.
Keels describes Sheridan as a bibliophile and leaves precious gems that will delight readers lying within the story. The reader lets out a delighted gasp when she receives holiday reading in the mail and a slight swoon when Eugene says he’s building a bookshelf. To say that I connected quickly with that character is an understatement, and I think she’s designed to be a touchstone for literature lovers. Within this very short piece, Sheridan is a bit dumb, a bit lovelorn, a bit heartbroken and very much human. Keel’s ability to pack such a punch somewhat astounds this reader.
Sheridan involves herself in a bit of an unexpected (for her) flirtation with Eugene, her neighbor and mailman. She describes him as odd looking at first but as the story goes on Keels makes slight alterations to the way Sheridan views him so that each time we meet him he’s a new character but not unbelievably so. The problem with this potential flirt-menace is that Sheridan was more broken by the breakup than she led us to believe. Is Eugene someone who will play a long game and is Sheridan willing to take that chance?
I really like the artistic craftsmanship that went into The “She” Stands Alone. Had I passed this novelette on a store bookshelf I may have kept going but in reading it and looking for below the surface the depth of Keel’s writing is masterful. The only negative note I have is that I wish it was a longer story. I wouldn’t mind spending more time with Sheridan and with Keel’s poetic style. I’d also like very much to hear some of this story read at a spoken word festival. I think it would be an empowering experience for young women who have felt a let down by a one-sided relationship.
Read an excerpt and buy The “She” Stands Alone by Nadine Keels on