The Benefits of Breathing by Christopher Meeks
Publisher: White Whisker Books (May, 2020)
Category: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Relationships
ISBN: Coming Soon
Tour Date: May-June, 2020
Available in: Print & ebook,
Description Benefits of Breathing by Christopher MeeksIn The Benefits of Breathing, his third collection of short stories, Christopher Meeks dives again into the human condition, particularly within relationships. As one reader wrote on Amazon, “Some authors need a lot of words to describe their worlds and their people. Christopher Meeks says a lot with a little.” The Los Angeles Times has called his stories “poignant and wise.” In this volume, “A Dog Story” captures a crumbled marriage and the love of a dog named Scrappy. “Joni Paredes” shows the birth of a new relationship that starts at a daughter’s wedding. “Nestor by the Numbers” follows one man’s often hilarious online dating experiences after he finally accepts his wife is gone. “Jerry with a Twist” shows an actor on an audition while his pregnant girlfriend helps him through a crisis. These and seven other stories will bring you into the special world of Meeks. As reviewer Grady Harp notes, if you’ve previously “discovered the idiosyncrasies of Meeks' writing style and content, rest assured that this new collection not only will not disappoint, but also it will provide further proof that we have a superior writer of the genre in our presence.” Try this book. You’ll have a lot to think about.
Advance Praise Benefits of Breathing by Christopher Meeks“Chris Meeks is a descriptive writer whose style paints a clear picture of everyday real life traumas. This story is about ordinary people and common problems; including how effective communication is so difficult to cultivate, especially when working through an emotional situation like a divorce. The reader can easily sense the strain of the failing relationship.”-T.M.S., Amazon “Thoroughly enjoyed this short but bittersweet divorce story. It's impossible to read anything Chris writes and fail to see pieces of yourself in the lines. Hope you keep them coming, Chris!”- Ksinteriors, Amazon “I’ve read much of Meeks’ work. His attention to detail and ability to show rather than tell is unique and engaging.”-Kevin Gerard, Amazon “While James Joyce was a trailblazer in the genre of literary fiction, Meeks surpasses him with crisp plainspoken prose abundant with brilliant humor and wit. Chris Meeks is one of those rare prolific and masterful writers whose stories and novels leave his audiences with a sense of satisfaction and enriching views of the human condition and humanity.”- James V Jordan, Amazon
EXCERPT FROM “JONI PAREDES,” A SHORT STORY
IN THE BENEFITS OF BREATHING
By Christopher Meeks
This excerpt comes after the opening scene where Joni Paredes, a young widow and a real estate specialist in Los Angeles, helps her only child, Athena, get ready for her wedding day. Here, we are at the wedding of Athena and Glen, outdoors at an elegant hotel in Pasadena.
Glen, a thin young man, had recently landed his first job out of college in Los Angeles as an insurance actuary. He helped calculate risk assessment and figure out insurance premiums. He stood on the lawn with Athena under the wedding arbor. Was he going to work for his same company in Seattle? He’d been a math major at UCLA—what calculations had he done in getting into Athena’s heart? As Joni stared at Glen in his tuxedo next to Athena, the sun revealed a red hue in his closely cropped hair.
Who dates a math major, especially one so skinny? Joni wondered. She sat in the front row of the ceremony, which had just started—on a white chair on the green perfect grass of the grand hotel. Why had Athena been attracted to him? Was it because Glen was a type that Joni wouldn’t have selected? In the last four months on Match.com, Joni had seen two men, an airplane pilot and a columnist from the business section of the Los Angeles Times. Both had been nice, but they started falling in love with her too fast. They’d probably be too emotional, like her late husband. She didn’t need that. They didn’t get beyond a handful of nice dinners, a concert in one case and a flea market in the other – plus a few evenings of sex, which hit the spot each time.
Didn’t Athena understand that she, Joni, left men the way she did because it was clean? Joni was dignified and emailed them. They’d realize she was not their soulmate. Once Joni could see the futures they projected on her, and that was not what she wanted, she left. She was a doer, and she had most everything she needed in life: a good car, no debt, and a great kid. Joni was still young, thirty-eight, so no need to rush into anything.
As Joni watched Glen put the ring on Athena’s finger, she thought of his pure devotion. Joni liked that about him and wondered what she would do if she found such a match. Either of those two men she’d recently dated could have become devoted, but it was a man’s world, and she didn’t need a man telling her what to do. If she could only find the right guy who wasn’t that way.
The wedding continued without a hitch with Reverend Jim from the Church of Good Luck officiating. The man was a friend’s father, someone, as Athena explained, who had a great sense of humor and loved collecting old-fashioned pinball machines. When Joni had met the reverend, she asked him why one needs a whole church for good luck. He said, “It’s to increase one’s good fortune and protect the luck you have. Have you had good luck?”
“Do you call having a bitch of a mother whose boyfriend burned my hand over an open flame when I was seven bad luck? Or my running away and getting pregnant at sixteen bad luck?”
“So you’d been victimized,” Reverend Jim said.
“No. I’m in control of my life, not luck.”
“We’re talking the same thing,” he said with a smile. “I like you.”
From that instant, she liked him.
Now Joni was at the head table in the Georgian Ballroom across from Reverend Jim and next to one of Glen’s uncles, a man who was a professor of filmic something at USC’s School of Cinema. She guessed he was ten years older than she, and he was half a head taller, with wonderfully dark thick hair and a charming smile. He mentioned he was divorced.
Did Athena place him here purposely? Joni glanced at Athena, who chatted with her bridesmaid, Monica, the girlfriend with great white teeth. As if feeling the stare, Athena glanced over at her mother and smiled. Joni smirked, shook her head at her daughter, and turned back to this Stewart something-or-other.
“Have you ever seen anything by Stanley Kubrick?” Stewart asked. “Such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Full Metal Jacket?
“I don’t go to movies very often,” Joni said.
He looked down as if he’d sat at the wrong table.
“I don’t mean to be negative,” she said, “but movies just seem a great way to use up time and money.”
He shook his head and said, “Someone must have treated you wrong.”
“Why would you say that?” said Joni.
“Movies are just stories,” he said, “but stories help us live. Until the printing press, most stories were passed down orally, but they were vital to people. The Vikings told the Icelandic tales through the dark winter. The Greeks passed along Helen of Troy.”
She held up one finger to interrupt. “And everyone talks about Game of Thrones now, as if it were a real thing. I’m sorry, but it’s just made up, all to eat up our time.”
He smiled broadly, wildly shaking his head. “You’re missing out. The Bible stories are just metaphors, otherwise made-up, so—”
“Watch it,” she said with a laugh. “I’m Catholic.”
“Most of the Bible didn’t really happen, but it’s illustrative. The Greek myths didn’t really happen but they absolutely show how people are. Same with all of Shakespeare—same with even Spiderman movies and The Dark Knight. The point is we need stories to live, and movies and TV, the best of them, help us.”
“That’s a lot of power you’re putting into movies,” Joni said.
“It’s no different from your dreams. Your dreams are your brain working out problems, and while most people don’t analyze what it means, dreams work on a subconscious level. Same with movies.”
“I did see 2001 at the Cinerama Dome. Incredibly weird. I liked how the guy overcame HAL the computer. I remember HAL. I didn’t get the ending. I didn’t get the metaphor.”
“Few people do – but think of Odysseus returning home,” said Stewart.
“Okay,” she said, not knowing who Odysseus was.
“It’s the journey’s end, is all. Like the end of The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home.”
She laughed and said, “Oil can, oil can,” with clenched teeth like the Tin Woodsman. “Okay. Maybe I’ll see more movies.” She liked the guy.
Awards and Recognition for Christopher MeeksBook of the Year Bronze Award from ForeWord Reviews (2017): ‘The Chords of War’ ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist award (2011)- ‘Love At Absolute Zero’ Three book critics’ Ten Best Books of 2011-‘Love At Absolute Zero’ Three book critics’ Ten Best Books of 2009- ‘The Brightest Moon of the Century’
About Christopher MeeksAward winning author, Christopher Meeks has five novels and two collections of short fiction published. The Benefits of Breathing’ is his third collection of short stories. He has had stories published in several literary journals, and they have been included in the collections "Months and Seasons" and "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea." Mr. Meeks has had three full-length plays mounted in Los Angeles, and one, "Who Lives?" had been nominated for five Ovation Awards, Los Angeles’ top theatre prize. Mr. Meeks teaches English and fiction writing at Santa Monica College, and Children’s Literature at the Art Center College of Design. He lives in Pasadena, CA. Website at: www.chrismeeks.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Christopher-Meeks-212382392140974/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.meeks1 Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeeksChris
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Giveaway Benefits of Breathing by Christopher MeeksThis giveaway is for the winner’s choice of print or ebook however, print is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ebook is available worldwide. There will be 3 winners. This giveaway ends June 27, 2020,midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The Benefits of Breathing is the first time I have encountered the work of Christopher Meeks. It is not my normal type of book I would read, but it is a perfect example why it is a good idea for readers to read outside their comfort zone. I enjoyed the collection of stories. Some made me think and some I found to be inspired. I was entertained from start to finish.
I would love to read more books / collections by Christopher Meeks in the future. I am giving The Benefits of Breathing four and a half stars.
I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
I am so glad you enjoyed 'The Benefits of Breathing'! Thanks so much for hosting. Chris writes in a variety of Genres including crime mysteries and literary fiction. I have loved all of his books!ReplyDelete