In this second book by Stephan Solberg, ‘Ice Shelves’ contains eleven short stories that capture human nature and contradictions on every level. The title refers to the layers of ice that form during the winter months along Lake Michigan. Ice, a liquid temporarily frozen in place, acts as a metaphor in Solberg’s work for the fragility in all that seems stable.
Solberg works to combine the realities of life with the unexpected, echoing what is a part of our daily lives. Life can be funny, serious, mundane, and full of sorrow, and Solberg aims to pay homage to all of these traits in this collection.
Such is the case in “Mimi’s Last Ride,” where a cast of characters cope with the loss of Mimi and converge at her funeral. Mimi’s daughter, Pam, snaps photos and fights with the funeral director over how much makeup her mother is wearing during her last public appearance. Others participate in evaluating what Mimi should look like, what she looked like in her prime, and the result is some comic relief to what should have been a serious event. Yet this tale isn’t all laughs, as the narrator reveals a genuine relationship developed with the aging woman who took pride in her image and “would glance at herself in the mirror as she passes, pretending not to look, and pooch out her lips and raise an eyebrow, just a bit, like she was Greta Garbo or Rita Hayworth or someone.”
Throughout eleven stories, Solberg examines life in big and small ways. The ice metaphor comes in to play as characters discover weaknesses and fragility in the most firm of places, prompting questions and discovery along the way. The author's style is accessible and enjoyable, offering quirky insights into human emotion and behavior.
Solberg’s first novel, ‘The Last of One,’ was published by Pocol Press and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and PEN/Faulkner Awards. ‘Ice Shelves,’ published by Unlimited Publishing LLC, is currently available in an advance e-book release with a paperback edition scheduled for late 2013.