My Favorite Lies
StorieseBook - 2001
There's one thing I know: Lies hold people together.
So says the narrator of the title story, a furniture refinisher who prides herself on her talent for sidestepping the facts. If only she weren't continually frustrated by her truth-telling older sister. If only the past would keep its distance.
In My Favorite Lies, Ruth Hamel uses a unique blend of humor, irony, and sharp detail to explore the lies people tell each other--not just the fibs, prevarications, and exaggerations, but the deceptions that spring from deliberate silence. These stories also examine the lies we tell ourselves as we struggle to bridge the gap between who we are and who we'd rather be.
One of the most striking characteristics of Hamel's work is a masterful economy of language that illuminates her characters and their situations in the first few sentences of each story. "Laura and Ward picked each other out of the end-of-the-summer party, spent the night at her apartment, then decided to drive naked to the ocean, one hundred and fifty miles away. They had fallen in love." We observe these characters' often stumbling efforts to come to terms with the truth, whether it concerns spouses, siblings, parents--or themselves.
One character is puzzled by her mother's fidelity to her hypocritical, social-climbing father, but explains it with words that apply to her own awkward relationship with an unpopular coworker: "Because somehow, against all the evidence to the contrary, you see something to love. And somehow it's enough."
Whether they're trying to escape their pasts, their families, or their own worst impulses, the characters in Hamel's stories make the same discovery: The truth will always become apparent.