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  • Writer's pictureFrank Schierloh

BOOK REVIEW: The Day Before It Rained-Stories by Rich Rubin

Welcome to 2024, the year I publish my first BOOK review! An old friend and former colleague, Rich Rubin, has spent the last few decades working as a writer, chronicling food and travel as well as fiction. He also worked in Philadelphia theatre, which is where our paths crossed. He has recently published his first book: a collection of short stories, and graciously sent me a copy asking for me to review it. So here are my thoughts! 

 

Life can be mundane when you’re stuck doing the same thing, day in and day out. Stories are the way we escape, to experience new worlds and adventures. The Day Before it Rained by Rich Rubin is a new collection of short stories, chronicling and exploring various different facets of the world at large. Through this collection of fictional vignettes, Rubin is able to focus the lens on the greater threadwork of humanity, and how so much of life is universal and interconnected despite our various differences. 


Where Rubin’s biggest strength lies is in his ability to create memorable characters. They vary in range, from the concertedly reminiscing Aaron in “Five Loves”, as he embarks on a journey through his memories of past relationships, to the unabashedly camp murder mystery author Althea in “Ballo in Maschera.” Rubin’s ability to render his characters to a reader immediately is commendable, and a highlight throughout the collection of adventures. Even in some of his shortest stories within the collection, he navigates their complex desires with aplomb, and invites the reader to do the same. 



Rubin’s voice is clear and concise. All of his stories have the tone and feel of someone who knows how to tell a tale. There are of course a few that don’t fully pay off, or that could use a touch more context, but in a collection of over 30 stories that is to be expected. None of the stories are difficult to finish, and the way the collection is structured lends itself to being able to almost binge-read individual sections. Each section, aptly titled in a theme, allows the reader the chance to see what the contained stories are about, and select a path forward based on their mood in the moment. 


Sections of the collection that stuck with me the most were the People with People section, which focuses on relationships and connection. Rubin is an ardent observer of how characters intersect and how simple actions can create lasting effects. I also was drawn to the Starting Over section, aptly titled as it is found towards the end of the collection. These stories are filled with a through-line of perseverance and continuation that make them feel vibrant. 

 

Witty, charming, engaging, and thought-provoking, The Day Before it Rained is not just a collection of short vignettes, but an examination of what it means to be human, and how we can still find joy and connection in the simplest moments of life. It is a wonderful addition to any reader’s bookshelf, with enough variation to suit any mood. Rubin here has assembled an eclectic collection of works written throughout his life, which showcase his talent not only as a writer, but as a traveler, lover, explorer and most importantly a storyteller too.


The Day Before it Rained: Stories by Rich Rubin can be purchased on Amazon.com.




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