Richard Duggin’s newest book, Why Won’t You Talk To Me?, is an assemblage of short stories that explores every emotional aspect of the institution of broken relationships, failed marriages, and endings and new beginnings. Each story underscores that before, amidst and following the demise of a marriage, most of us are simply not capable of honest, open introspection and communication.
The characters in Why Won’t You Talk To Me? are active participants in the “would have-should have-could have game” and they all are inclined to over-intellectualize their marital miscues. Duggin imbues his cast with an engaging genuineness and believability. Their lives and their reflections are highly relatable. As a result, the reader establishes tight connections with the characters and a bond, based on a true concern for them, which makes their stories especially engaging.
Duggin is an adept storyteller who has honed the craft of writing introspection. The reader is apt to perceive that they are truly inside the mind of the characters (and their own mind perhaps). And they are likely to feel that they have experienced in their own lives the stories to which they most strongly relate. For me the, the book kept my head nodding in either agreement or revelation and my hand eager to turn the next page.
One such story and cast of characters which strongly elicited this response from me was titled “A Certain Knowledge.” In this amusing account of what initially appears to be the mundane story of “Dad picks up kids from ex on his weekend,” Duggin manages to render a meticulously detailed and mesmerizing portrait of the complex dynamics between the ex-husband, ex-wife, their kids, and the new boyfriend and potential step-father. This story clearly established for me that the author does indeed have certain knowledge with regard to what he is writing about.
The stories in Why Won’t You Talk To Me? do not suggest, as did Ralph Waldo Emerson, that “Tomorrow is another day…begin it with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” That noble act must come from within the reader. But Duggin has certainly written a most thoughtful and thought-provoking book that will challenge you to reconsider the blunders and absurdities of your failed affairs of the heart. If that is your aim, then I suggest you take a deep breath and have fun reading Why Won’t You Talk To Me?.