Glen Chamberlain’s collection of stories, Conjugations of the Verb To Be, is quite possibly the most depressing bit of prose I’ve ever encountered. The grueling 11-story collection is wrought with death, unfulfilled dreams, loneliness, and betrayal. And that in 193 pages the author could not muster one word of positivity is even more depressing than the stories standing alone.

Aside from being dragged through the worst of humanity, I found this composition bogged down and pretentious. Chamberlain is an author who cannot use a noun without an adjective; and once adopting a phrase she obviously liked, it seemed to pop-up repeatedly throughout the book.

Perhaps the only saving grace is the setting for each story: Buckle, Montana. Though portrayed in a depressing light itself at times, in the midst of sadness and one too many descriptive words, Chamberlain did at least convey the breathtaking landscape native to Montana. That alone grants one sense of peace in the midst of such a traumatic series.

When I read, it is for pleasure and for escape–not to be tossed into the throws of life at its worst. I absolutely do not recommend Conjugations of the Verb To Be–unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

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