RYAN KRULL teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
In the best short-story collections, each successive story builds upon the previous, making the sum greater than the parts. Five-time Pushcart Prize winner Richard Burgin’s ninth short-story collection Don’t Think succeeds easily in that regard, with tight, thematic links between stories and an impressive tonal range that span from dark, depressingeven grossto wildly humorous, subtle, and human.
Literature often foists the mentally ill onto the page as spectacle, made interesting by way of radical difference. But West’s way of looking at the world felt familiar. It is not hard to identify with a man who believes that everything he observes he observes for a reason, that everything is a symbol of something larger.