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An Epilogue to Innocence Paperback – June 26, 2016
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About the Author
Tim Baughman Jr. is a husband, author, and blogger. He enjoys crafting letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into stories that tug at your heartstrings with kitten eyes and melodic heartbreak. There's a statistically significant chance any pictures taken of him were quickly followed by a snarky remark.
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Books of short stories can go one of a few different ways and very often I personally find them disappointing. I've found that a lot of short stories will really whet my appetite in the beginning, but then end so quickly that I don't feel like there was any strong conclusion. That is not the case with An Epilogue to Innocence. Despite their relative short length, each of these stories feels complete. These characters feel like whole people with motivations, fears, and dreams that we understand despite not having chapters upon chapters to get to know them like we would in a full length novel.
"A Delayed First Date" is funny, ironic, and features a situation that I found relatable as a young adult. It's honestly something that I could see happening in my own life.
Possibly my favorite story (though it's hard to choose) is "The Strongest Feelings Are On The Inside." This is the longest entry in the book and it's one of the most surprising and dark things I've read in a long time. This story begins on a tragic note when a young husband is left to mourn the death of his wife, but from there the story takes a number of twists and turns that will leave you shocked and somewhat horrified. I don't want to give away too much, but it's incredible. I would honestly love to see a film based off of it.
Another story I really appreciated was "Use As Directed." This one, in my opinion, covered the broadest array of emotions of any of the stories. I found myself laughing out loud and feeling emotionally gutted all within the span of a few pages. This piece deals with mental illness and does it with grace and without exploitation.
Overall, An Epilogue to Innocence is a satisfying read that you can easily finish within a day or so, but will likely take longer than that to fully digest. There's a lot of sadness and loss within these few pages, but there's just enough optimism sprinkled in there to keep it from becoming too bleak.
My two favorite stories from the collection were "Soma"--a tender yet devastating examination of the pain of loss--and "The Strongest Feelings Are On The Inside", which covered similar subject matter, but took a drastic turn. I think I enjoyed these two because of the vastly different possibilities for how to respond to heartbreak. One was sweet and sorrowful; the other was brutal and tragic. Both were beautiful examinations of the human experience.
All in all, I recommend this book for anyone who appreciates fictional examinations about the realities of being human, an dhow we do (or don't) make it through.
Baughman's stories are captivating. He manages to address so many of the elements of being a 20-something--love, loss, depression, suicide, marriage, divorce, childbirth, sex, violence, curiosity, confusion, hopelessness, joy, sadness...it's all there. These stories even range in genre! Some of them are thrilling, some scary, some touching, some sad. Some of them will make you laugh out loud, and others will make you ugly-cry.
Anyone over the age of 20 can relate to something out of this book. And for anyone under 30, it should be required reading to help you navigate through the most confusing period of your entire adult life.
You can stamp this with MY approval. 5 stars. No, 11 stars. Buy 12 of them and give them to everyone you know for Christmas or better yet, graduation. You'll be glad you did.