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David Orsini’s Bitterness / Seven Stories
A Review by Ben W. McClelland, University of Mississippi

David Orsini’s collection of short fiction, Bitterness / Seven Stories, is an auspicious literary artist’s debut. The book presents credible, complex characters and displays a fluent literary style that features richly embroidered sentences, situating the reader in an early twentieth-century world of diverse geographic and social scenes that are rendered with uncanny authenticity. Throughout the stories there resonates a rich framework of philosophical probing, mystical appreciation, psychological analysis, and untrammeled sexual exploration. Indeed, the complex artistic achievement of this collection defies easy analytical formulation. I will point to salient aspects of the work to demonstrate that the book will reward appreciative, discriminating readers.

David Orsini’s Bitterness / Seven Stories
A Review by Martha McCann Rose, Salve Regina University

Bitterness / Seven Stories is a perfectly crafted, elegant collection of stories. As a reader, I was moved and delighted by several aspects of the work: the language, the characters, and the treatment of the human condition.

David Orsini’s use of language is masterful. The imagery envelops the reader. The words chosen are graceful and rich. As a native New Englander, I was drawn into the descriptions of the area; these familiar places became new. “Memorials,” set in the city where I spend each day, made the Newport waters fresh again. In that story, the lighthouse is a clear symbol, yet not overwrought. In “Affinities,” the power of Nature guides the protagonist Adam Mackenzie as well as the reader to strength.

David Orsini’s Bitterness / Seven Stories
A Review by Alfred Turco, Wesleyan University

David Orsini’s collection of stories is very impressive. First of all, a reader must understand the kind of book Bitterness / Seven Stories is. It is not a novel comprised of chapters which develop a single narrative line; each story can be appreciated by itself. However, the totality adds up to more than just a sampling of short fictions; for the individual components are interrelated and resonate with each other in all sorts of interesting ways. Each piece deals mainly with intelligent, appealing, and privileged persons frustrated in their desire to recover meaningful and rewarding lives after a terrible experience or an error of judgment. The emphasis often falls on recently matured men and women as they deal with tensions among partners, siblings, or parents. The most interesting figures have a social conscience and are sensitive to the needs of the less favored and fortunate whom they see around them. The time frame is the period before, during, and after WWI; settings shift mainly from Rhode Island to France. Artistic aspiration plays an important part in each story – painting, photography, music, writing, and architecture. Given the social status of the characters, it is appropriate that their dialogue be almost always self-possessed and poised, though often with intimations of more ominous passions beneath the surface.


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