This review first appeared on January 20, 2013 on Amazon Kindle.
Four Unique Stories: each a life ruined, lost, adrift, or of a semi-passive observer.
This time, you should let the star count decide for you. This is one of those books that are complex enough to be hard to rate, and I spent a lot of soul-searching while doing it. There are four short stories here, and a strange preface. The preface is a quote from D. G. Leahy. If you search for the referenced work, you may also find this quote: ‘Dr. Devaney calls this book “absolutely, unequivocally incomprehensible.” While she has supplied further extended quotations to prove her point, this seems to be enough.’
So you will be pleasantly surprised by the first story, Dread in Madrid, which makes mostly perfect sense, even in its own sometimes-inebriated first person narrative. The writer claims to be poetic in his prose, and I find this claim to be substantiated. There are puns, homonyms, odd turns of phrase that make the work fun without messing up the main thread. There are also strange turns of phrase that will make you stop and think: ‘say what?’ and read the passage again. The writing is often literary without being pretentious.
If your general knowledge is equal to or less than mine, you’ll be using Google for the odd word, and Spanish beer brands. This disappears after the first reading and isn’t an issue. I used a large Spanish dictionary as well, but then I never studied Spanish in school. The generation after me probably chose Spanish before German, French, or Latin, eh? Much more practical.
In the second story, Pistol Pete, we have real drama including relationships, some social commentary, and aerial combat. This is definitely my favourite in this book, excellently written. Buy this book and read this story.
The third story, Springtime, is tragic and reminds me of The Sound and the Fury, in that it is a tale told from a reduced mind’s point of view. Simple, scary, and moving.
In the fourth story, The Watcher, we have almost a happening, a street incident with numerous participants at cross purposes, usually ignoring each other, and sometimes not, with consequences. This is an interesting read. Here the occasional rhyming seems more natural, or maybe I’m just catching on to Clay’s way of capturing his thoughts.
If I had to make a tiny quibble, it would be this. The use of rhyme inside prose occurs can occasionally seem strange in word choice; you will get used to this. This is experimental writing; nevertheless the word play is usually effective and works on several levels. A tiny quibble.
Why five stars? It takes an astonishingly good work to get five stars in a formal Kindle Book Review, and the decision was not taken lightly. This is an interesting read, a good bang for the buck, very well written. Highly recommended.
Jim Bennett (Kindle Book Review Team member)