Top positive review
4.5 Stars: Great character development in these short stories
on January 26, 2015
4.5 STARS -- a very good collection of short stories, with well-defined characters. Strong, well-written interior monolog characterizes many of the stories. Character development is a strong-point in these stories, which many other authors fail to achieve in their short stories. As a consequence, the "action" is often a specific event or slice of life -- not typically a "whodunnit" or other action-oriented story line. Not a lot "happens". The characters' responses (thoughts and actions) to a life-event is the story-line. The short story "King Cole's American Salvage" is an exception, in that it does have a significant storyline that is propelled forward over a time period. Well-constructed, believable rural characters, in a short-story format makes this book a keeper. The characters are sympathetic and likeable. This contrasts with the characters developed in another book of rural short stories,"Crimes In Southern Indiana" by Frank Bill -- where the rural characters are mostly violent, crude, and definitely not likeable. This is a big contrast. I think "American Salvage" has the better writing.
Of the 14 stories, I scored only 4 as being approximately average ("C"). The rest scored "B" or "A" -- which is pretty good, in my experience of reading books of short stories. I did not rate any in the "D" or "F" range.
My favorite story: "The Inventor, 1972"
Others that are almost as good: Bringing Belle Home; King Coles' American Salvage; Fuel for the Millennium
Least favorite: "The Trespasser" . Too short to develop any significant action, event, character, or reason for being. Sort of a flash-in-the-pan event, contrasting a middle-class girl's life with a vagrant meth-head girl's life. Not a bad idea, but an idea that needs further development.
The book's cover deserves mention: excellent design/photograph. Don't know if this photo was simply "found" and used by the designer, or if the photo was "commissioned" for the book. (I have no idea how these details are carried out). But, the cover photo, with its sepia tone (overall) and the red dress "popping" on the woman in the foreground (with her unusual, stiff, stance) is quite arresting (for some reason). I picture it as corresponding to the story "The Yard Man". I keep looking at it for some reason. Odd, but true.