Looking Back is composed of two short stories, The Girl in the Blue Dress and The Presence of Nothing. In these two stories, Jay Finn tells his tales through memories of the main character. Perhaps these are even the author’s memories fictionalized, I am not sure. In terms of craft, each of these stories is well devised, have a lead in that captures the audience, a meaningful middle, and an ending that ties the story closed. With that said, I personally enjoyed The Presence of Nothing quite a bit more than The Girl in the Blue Dress.
In The Girl in the Blue Dress, much of the tale is about Katie as seen through her boyfriend’s eyes. The tale was saturated with the feelings of guilt and shame (about the sex, pregnancy, and abortion), which made it a rather depressing piece. While truthful to some people’s natures, I still found the tale a bit dull; it held no magic for me.
In The Presence of Nothing, a man relives his memories of his grandfather as the elderly man lays dying. This tale was intense for all its brevity and held some magic and a bit of a riddle for me. Definitely worth my time.