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For Those With Eyes to See Paperback – May 14, 2013
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About the Author
Troy Blackford is a writer living in the Twin Cities with his wife, son, and two cats.
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This book, that's what. A collection of short stories, For Those With Eyes to See spans the spectrum of the bizarre, worrisome and horrifying. While a lot of similar anthologies suffer from obvious "weak points," stories that either don't fit the overall tone or that are somehow inferior to the others, Blackford's collection seems to suffer from no such weakness; each tale serves as a quick read, often with an O. Henry punch at the end, and keeps you hungry for more without feeling incomplete. Each piece has something to recommend it, whether it be the eventual fate of the almost-too-nice crafter who just wanted some eyes for her stuffed animals in the titular tale or the sudden reversal and light of hope found in 'Now for the Sunbeams.'
The language is clear and well-written, having a knack for finding just the right word without needless excursions to the thesaurus or dictionary. (the singular exception being 'All in Your Head' and it's use of otolaryngological... but given the context and the way it's used, we'll give that one a pass.) The characters are entertaining and well fleshed out given the truncated word count, and each of them are entertaining in their own way (my favorite being Paul Whirlpool from 'That's When You Know You're Doing Something Right'), with a unique voice and feel to them that sometimes evades short fiction.
If you have a taste for the weird, miss the days when short fiction was common and collections were the norm (especially those who enjoyed Barker's In The Flesh or King's Night Shift) then this book is probably worth a look. If you don't feel like reading it in order (which you should, because they're all great and I thought the order of placement was part of the fun), I at the very least advise you to check out 'That's When You Know You're Doing Something Right,' 'Such A Good Idea,' and 'Monday Morning,' which were my personal favorites.
These stories were all entertaining for me. And I will never EVER look at 'harmless' plastic googly eyes again. Good thing I have two killer cats as body guards to help should I ever run across cursed ones. Hopefully the puppy will soon learn useful protection skills from them.
These short stories are a pleasure to read. It's the right amount of fantasy mixed with some hints of humor, truths, facts and real life.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories, I easily have a favorite; Now for the Sunbeams. I loved it so much, that I read it consecutively twice.(Well, three times now that I read it again while in the middle of writing this review.)
"Yet those who didn't see the world as process saw filth and dirt with fresh greens stuck into it. Life here, death there. This was preposterous. The continuum consisted of nothing save itself. There was no 'life' or 'death', fore you could find none without the other. The idea was so painfully obvious that nobody liked seeing it."
The molding and shaping of history and how things eventually develop are played out brilliantly in the story. Maybe I read to deeply into the story, maybe not. But that's the beauty of interpretation. However, I still say, well done, Troy. Well done.
"Such a Good Idea" - Rebecca is married to John who is a creative novelist. He is telling her all about his new story idea. John gets a little carried away while describing this new idea about a novelist who has such a good idea.
"They Who Cry Out Seek to be Heard" - Lana hears her name being called inside her home. But as far as she knows she is home alone. Then she remembers this has happened before.
"A Trip to the Roof" - The agency is keeping test subjects on the roof. Eric has grabbed a sack of food so he can feed the subjects. Pete usually does the feeding but he has not been seen for a couple of days. Eric felt relieved when he sees the test subjects, but his feeling of relief does not last long.
These are just a few of the amazing short stories in this collection by the very talented Troy Blackford. I would highly recommend "For Those With Eyes to See".