The mind says: Releasing The Orange Suitcase on the heels of Do Something Do Something Do Something is a smart move on the part of author Joseph Riippi and his publisher Ampersand Books. Where Do Something introduced us to an author adept at plumbing the depths of the human heart in long, flowing, stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, The Orange Suitcase gives us a new perspective from which to triangulate the author’s raison d’etre. In this volume of ultra-short “somethings” (as Riippi calls them), we discover an author who is as comfortable exploding the details of a moment or a memory in the space of a few-hundred well-chosen words as he was exploring the inner turmoil of the lonely denizens of 21st cetury America in his previous outing. Additionally, the whimsy of some passages in The Orange Suitcase serves as a nice counterbalance to inherent gravitas of Do Something. Yet while The Orange Suitcase sees Riippi perhaps having a little more fun with both language and his subject matter than he did in Do Something, it is, nonetheless, a serious volume, touching as it does on topics like aging, death, and the passage of time (among many others). To put it another way, The Orange Suitcase offers a healthy balance of exuberance and sincerity, and, more to the point, demonstrates that the two qualities aren’t mutually exclusive.
The heart says: I want to take these short pieces — these “somethings” as the author calls them — and plaster them all over my quiet suburban town: staple them to tree trunks and telephone poles, stuff them in mailboxes, trap them beneath the windshield wipers of strangers’ cars. I want to share the work of Joseph Riippi with the world, want to show the world what writing can do, what writers can do, how well-wrought prose can make good neighbors of us all. And I want to believe the world will read his words and be changed in some way, to be moved enough to say yes to life, to love, to change, to all he has to share about all we have to share.
-Review by Marc Schuster