#BookReview: The Changing Tide

Louis J. Beilman III and Friend
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Lewis J. Beilman III’s short story collection, The Changing Tide, presents us with multifaceted, thought-provoking stories about life in these United States at this moment in time–yet with universal themes of race, class, sexuality, and making human connections that will continue to resonate.

As I read each story, I particularly appreciated the quality of the prose. Beilman has devoted time and care to developing his craft, and it shows. I also appreciated his skillful use of the unreliable point of view character. I was able to experience and understand these characters’ way of responding to the world around them, while at the same time seeing its negative impact on the other people in the story and, by extension, on our society. This is a difficult balance to pull off, and Beilman does it masterfully, never crossing the line into stereotype or caricature.

The standout in the collection is the novella Fourth of July, which, it should be noted, is not for the faint of heart (graphic sex). It starts innocuously enough with a family who has too many channels on the television, nothing to watch, and nothing in particular to say to each other. What to do, what to do? What the father decides to do to help his little family overcome their ennui born of privilege shocked me, but I couldn’t stop reading. The ending of Fourth of July was as chilling as it was unexpected.

The placement of the stories in the collection is particularly well-considered, giving the book as a whole an ebb and flow of its own, which resulted in an exceptionally satisfying reading experience. When I closed the book on the last story, I was very glad I had decided to read the stories in the order in which they are presented, and I would encourage other readers to do the same. I will definitely be watching for Beilman’s next collection!

79 thoughts on “#BookReview: The Changing Tide

  1. For years now, I haven’t read many short stories. Your review makes me think this should be my foray back into that genre. As you know, I’m a sucker for careful, skillful, well-developed writing! Thanks, Liz.

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  2. This book sounds fascinating, and timely, and thoughtfully composed. I’m completely engrossed in the politics of the day and distressed beyond believe. The stories sound like they offer commentary without talking heads. Thanks so much for the review, Liz. 🙂

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          1. Yes. Unfortuantely. I’m a (market) research man. I made a living presenting facts and conclusions to clients. A few years ago I did a private research cross-referencing data from the world bank. Whole world. It’s only 200 cases (countries). I found some interesting results, great unexpected correlations. But the results were depressing. So I dropped it. Two hints: the two most highly correlated variables with development are corruption (or lack of rather) And Tertiary (University) education.

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              1. Yeah, I think you told me about critical inquiry before. Market or opinion research is about gathering facts or opinions. Behavious or attitudes. And make sure the client understands the difference. 😉 (Well my clients were Coca-Cola, P&G, Unilver, L’Oréal, GM, most knew the difference) I also made sure to separate fact form interpretation. 56% of respondents buy Brand X. Fact. Interpretation: why do 44% don’t buy Brand X? How can we “lure”, convince them?
                B. Good Liz. (How was Vermont?)

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                  1. Sounds interesting. In this day and age of cut-and-paste, plagiarism is so easy to do. Daughter #2 did an MA at George Washington University. They had a programme to analyze the papers against published literature and search for possible plagiarism. My wife is a researcher here at UNAM, publishing papers of her her own and reviewing papers sent by journals for “research quality”. She tells me some of the papers submitted can be of abysmal quality. The meeting must have been very interesting.

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                    1. Yes, it was. Plagiarism is such an intractable problem in the Internet age we need to come at it from multiple angles. It sounds as though Daughter #2 was using TurnItIn, which is good to catch verbatim copy-and-pastes from websites and articles in library databases, but it can’t catch other types of plagiarism, such as purchasing a paper from one of those sites purporting to be a “homework help” site. (Don’t get me started . . . )


                    2. Turnitin? I’ll ask her tomorrow, we’re having brunch at home to celebrate daughter #1’s birthday.
                      Homework help? Seriously? That p… me off. Grrrr. Thinking of the time and care we all took writing papers in Grad school. Or papers for Congresses… Re- Grrr.

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                    3. You’re right that plagiarism has always been a part of college. When I was researching my grandmother’s education at Dalhousie University from 1914-1918, the school newspaper featured a plagiarism rant written by a faculty member.

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                    4. An old plague… 14-18? Were American universities open to women already? Much was still blocked in France. Oxford did not “allow” women to matriculate (and graduate) until 1920. A bare 100 years ago. Or maybe there were specific women universities I guess?

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                    5. Hats of to them. 🙂 Now Nova Scotia? That’s right Gauffreau is aFrench (canadian) name. Isn’t it weird to think of a world where women could not go to College? There has been progress. 🙂

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                    6. It’s very weird to think of a world where women could not go to college. What I find particularly remarkable about my grandmother’s successful college education (she put me to shame, for sure) is that she grew up on a small farm in a very poor area of Nova Scotia. The farmhouse didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until the late 1930s.

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                  1. A heckler, you? Doubt it very much… 🙂 Though I remember from presenting in MR congresses, that there always one or two in the crowd. Some one knew well and attended accordingly. 🙂 I found them actually fun. Part of the show. 😉

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