(4 / 5)
Jeffrey Archer brings us a collection of old fashioned short stories some of which are based on people he has met, and places he’s seen, and some are just from the depths of his imagination. Each story has an interesting twist inconsistent with the foreshadowing set up at the beginning of the stories. There is humor here, and social commentary as well. The author draws the reader into the story world quickly, embroils them in mystery, and entertains at the conclusion. Don’t let the style deceive you. These are thoroughly readable stories.
(5 / 5)
In Enough! Thirty Stories of Fielding Life’s Little Curve Balls, Caroline Taylor has compiled some of the best of her short stories into one captivating, memorable volume. The majority of the stories are explorations in alignment—Do I choose to align with what others demand of me or with my own desires, my own truth? What are the consequences of living a life that lacks integrity? What happens when I only go halfway? Some of the characters are quietly strong and defiant, as are the ones in Alley Cat, Departure, and the eponymous opening story, Enough! In ways both subtle and blatant, they define for themselves what is acceptable, and what will not be tolerated. In others, such as The Business of Business, Briar Patch, and Maude’s Makeover, they take full advantage of the opportunities they’ve created for themselves: all desperately, one maliciously. And then there are the narratives of Noise, Bonnie, and Plain Vanilla. The people in these stories have made their proverbial beds and now have to decide whether or not they want to lie in them. It may or may not be too late for them to change their minds.
Taylor’s execution of stories that cross gender, age, time, and space (literally) is skillful and imaginative. Her characters’ vivid inner lives are what give their external actions such depth of meaning. She has a particular talent for conveying the tension and unease that exists within a person when wrestling with the idea of taking a step (or three) outside one’s comfort zone. Combine that with occasional wry humor (Rules for the Company Picnic, for example), and you’ve got a superb, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read. While many of her characters are learning how to say “Enough!” in their own lives, Caroline Taylor’s Enough! will make you want to say “More!”
(4.5 / 5)
Jack C. Buck’s Deer Michigan is a wide-ranging flash fiction collection that while set in very American locales like Michigan and Colorado, speaks to a much more universal set of human experiences. The sixty-three tales that comprise the anthology range from the literal to the fanciful, from the nostalgic to the self-punishing – sometimes moving from one to another within the same story. They can be little snippets of life, something that in real time might be a mere moment, or they can be odes to entire lifetimes.
For example, Grand Rapids, Michigan evokes a particular American era before computers and global terrorism, when children were wholly absorbed with the important business of being children. Even if Grand Rapids was never your town and you don’t know of a life without cell phones, Buck makes you feel the sticky heat of summers in the Mid-West and ache for the wild freedom of having so much life stretching out in front of you. Conversely, Conversations in an Idle Car is deeply intimate and closes in around you. It is about that moment in a relationship when it hits you, that you know for sure it’s over. Almost without saying a single word.
Buck’s talent as a writer lies in describing any given sliver of life so well and with such detail that one can’t help but be there, wherever there is. But he also somehow manages to encourage your own memories and imaginings of times real or dreamt of. There is a poetic rhythm to many of his stories, a slow to and fro that compels the reader to witness and to feel and to become a part of Deer Michigan.