The Dead Still Here
Mapping stories set in Europe and America, The Dead Still Here skillfully paces through eleven short stories about friends-with-benefits typed relationships, vicious divorces and thievery, the loss of a child, the loss of a mother, and the Coast Guard and the Navy rescuing refugees from a bad storm at sea. Laura Valeri writes one single breathtaking sentence about sex, Dear John emails, and Christmas presents in “Liabilities of a Love Misguided” and vividly recreates that sharp sense of self-consciousness in “What They Know.” Along with characters that are irrevocably locked in their heads, Valeri includes a guide on how to take medication in “Prescription for Life,” which subtly points to the other hallucinatory narratives. This collection is at once provocative and lucid, and it offers various angles of characters looking for a relationship to hold.
From: US Review of Books
The best short story collections contain something more than notable writing. The tales may vary greatly in time, place, participants, and plot, but there is a unifying bond that subtly reveals why these disparate creations cohabitate. In Valeri’s collection, that bond is something from which no life is immune, whether rich, poor, sophisticated, or that of the everyman; it is something each of us must deal with: loss.
In twelve stories, a prevailing sense of loss weaves its way in and out of vastly different lives. There are older women who have lost husbands, children, and dreams of security and serenity. There are teenagers who have lost faith in their parents, their world, their friends, and perhaps most acutely, themselves. There are adults who have lost the ability to make the kinds of decisions they think they ought to be making. There are individuals who have lost their belief, if they ever had it, in any sense of permanency.
Valeri is too wise a writer to focus directly on loss. Rather, she explores the coping mechanisms employed to deal with emotional damage. She does so with prose that is intense yet restrained. She infuses even the most impassioned situations with a confident calmness. She never lectures, but there is much to be learned by her dramatizations of human behavior in difficult times. She even employs surrealism in a couple of instances that seem bizarre initially but are definitely memorable. In essence, this collection houses both exceptional writing and compelling narrative. It serves as a reminder that, in the right hands, the short story remains very much alive, well, and worthy of literary respect.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
From Midwest Book Review
Showcasing seven exceptionally and extraordinarily well crafted literary gems, “The Dead Still Here” by Laura Valeri is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.
From The JItney
Laura Valeri definitely writes ghost stories. But not a traditional ghost story — these are literary, not horrific. There’s no boo or gotcha. There’s no zombies or gore.
Valeri’s ghosts are more like demons that swim up to our consciousness, making us stare into the omnipotent face of the things we lost.
She writes prose like a poet, with some sentences leaving readers with a catharsis that makes reading worthwhile. She writes with sharp cut to’s, bouncing through time and scenery with scope and gravity.
From In D’Tail
The Dead Still Here is a powerful, eloquent collection of short stories. Short stories and novellas can be a mixed bag, especially when they are packaged as a collection. Inevitably, there are one or two subpar entries, or the stories are simply too brief to remain memorable. However, Flash Fiction, short stories, and novellas have found a new niche in a society that digests so much of its content in short bursts. It is rare to find a collection of stories written with such a beautiful and lyrical prose. Each of these twelve stories is stunning in their own way. There is a melancholy connectivity binding them together, with a bit of dry or ironical humor tossed in as well.