Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Mill Town

Tracy Winn wanted to write about a great friendship that had been lost. When she saw a news clip about a baby who had fallen into a canal and had been rescued by a mill worker, she began to imagine her story. “Mrs. Somebody Somebody” is a collection of nine short stories which are connected. Characters appear in one story and then reappear in another. The setting is Lowell, Massachusetts from 1947 to the present. The title story “Mrs. Somebody Somebody” introduces the reader to Stella who works in the Hub Hosiery Mill. Stella makes friends with Lucy who dives in to save the baby who has fallen into the river. But Lucy is not what she appears to be. Tracy Winn writes about a friendship that develops between people and the sadness that follows when people don’t pay attention to the signs that are given between friends.

The common thread of these stories is the mill and the city of Lowell. The mill is owned by the Burroughs family. The son of the family appears fleetingly in the first story. In the next story, “Blue Tango”, we learn that Charlie Burroughs, the son of the owner of the mill, is a doctor who has enlisted in the Korean War. He has left a young wife, Delia, behind. In the third story "Glass Box", we learn that Delia had a hard time being left behind. The Burroughs family and their children appear in the subsequent stories as we watch the family implode. We meet the many diverse inhabitants of Lowell throughout these stories. In “Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry”, nine year old Kaylene and her siblings are trying to survive after their mother leaves them and their father ends up in jail. When Kaylene leaves her stepmother’s purse on the top of the car as it pulls away we watch as their whole world falls apart.

But just when you are feeling that you miss a character, they reappear in another story. The final story “Luck be a Lady” reunites Stella, Kaylene and Delia Burroughs.

Tracy Winn’s characters are well developed and defined. She has that unique writer’s talent that makes you care about her characters as much as she does. She writes sentences that are short, clipped and forceful. Her dialogue makes you feel like you are right there listening to the conversation with the characters.

This is Tracy Winn’s first published book. I hope she takes one of these very interesting characters and writes a novel about them. Tracy Winn has that magical combination of being a very good writer and a very good story teller.

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