Tender Cuts by Jayne Martin
Vine Leaves Press
Jayne Martin’s Tender Cuts is a book of rainbow emotions. In this collection of 38 tiny tales, she memorably sketches her characters, regardless of the limitations not only of gender or age, but also of their economic backgrounds. Her characters are unaware of one another and yet they form a coherent whole by being the victims of the same thing: human emotions. She can tell the story of a bored rich kid as honestly as that of someone living on the road. It is interesting how she connects multiple stories with a feeling of wanting to belong somewhere. It seems that mastery of this kind cannot be achieved without inherent, intrinsic wisdom on the part of the writer or by closely observing the quirks of those characters or their real-life counterparts.
It is interesting how she connects multiple stories with a feeling of wanting to belong somewhere.
Martin’s language is beautiful without becoming ornate. Every metaphor, every analogy, adds value to the story. The realizations of her characters hit you out of nowhere. Sometimes that’s how she starts a story, sometimes they happen in the middle or end, but they are always tailored to the character she writes it for and never seem out of place.
She has an undeniable gift for portraying every character beautifully, yet it is ‘the neglected’ for whom she reserves real beauty, as if the so-called ‘ordinary’ were too boring for Martin to notice and the excluded and marginalized ones too interesting not to. Whatever her reasons are, she has done an excellent job on it and the reader can’t help but be grateful for that.
Martin doesn’t show stylistic diversity in just different stories, for she does it within every single vignette, paragraph, and sentence. One needs not read the entire book to determine this. She switches the tone from beautiful romanticism to painful reality within the first paragraph of the book; not to mention that she makes use of this technique whenever required.
Martin’s writing is like fairy dust: It makes everything shine.
Martin’s writing is like fairy dust: It makes everything shine. If she can successfully portray a child’s attempt to protect her heart from the scars left by domestic violence, she can equally well describe the insecurities of two youngsters having sex for the first time. And when it comes to loneliness, she masterfully explores it in people from all walks of life.
Reality laced with irony is her greatest weapon. And her brilliant wordplays will undoubtedly remind the reader of O. Henry.
Martin makes you interested in a story and leaves you wanting more. You feel a taste on the tongue, and then, after swallowing, you are hoping for more.