* I received this as a free eBook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *
This book of short stories, dealing with relationships of one kind or another, had me on a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride. Some of the stories managed to evoke real sadness while others an unexplained sadness, some definitely made me smile while two actually made me laugh out loud.
BY THE STREAM ON MOVING DAY – The narrator and Henry were best friends all through childhood, until Henry’s parents divorced and he and his mother eventually moved away. Reconnecting as adults brought to the forefront some realities they had not realized as children … that last hug they shared may have been more than a simple hug. But it’s true what they say about not being able to “go home” again. This story contained my favourite passage in the book,
“ He was always affable growing up, not at all the neurotic child of divorce like my other friends from broken homes. My own home was broken but has been sloppily stuck back together, complete with visible cracks and tiny missing pieces. Henry lived the dream: two rooms, two sets of presents, two vacations, zero arguing parents.”
THIS ONE NIGHT IN THE BAR WHERE I WORK – A waiter and bartender observe a couple having an argument in bar.
The writing has no discernable formatting, sentence structure, little punctuation and no upper-case letters to distinguish sentences. (I thought it was my e-version of the book to blame but all the other stories were fine.) No it was simply frantic writing (and reading) and THE perfect to convey the tone of the argument.
EGG AND SPOON – A young boy who seems to not have a lot going for him decides to make his mark on the world by breaking the Guinness World Record for an Egg and Spoon race.
Although a little heartbreaking, looking back, this was my favourite story in the book.
THAWED – Cryogenics gone very wrong.
This is most detailed story in the book. I enjoyed this story because it has a definite beginning, middle and end and the most evolved characters. As a reader of primarily full-length novels this story fulfilled my need for “completeness”.
The above are only four out of the fourteen stories included in this book. The others range from a man explaining the evolution of his erections from pre-puberty to adulthood (A Tale of Five Thousand Erections) and a couple finding each other because of a mutually shared problem (My Right Armpit Sweats More than My Left One) – both made me laugh – through to the sadness of the memories of an active father who is slowly turning into a block of granite (My Father the Statue).
Mr. Fredrick does display a wide variety of writing styles in this compilation, and he does them all very well. I certainly have the utmost admiration and respect for his talent, yet as with all compilations some stories will resonate with readers more than others and that it just the nature of the short story. The range of stories in this book guarantees there is something for everyone. Funnily enough, the story I personally enjoyed the least is the story that offered this book its title.