Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Little Stories" by Jeff Roberts

Title: "Little Stories"
Author: Jeff Roberts
Pages: 108
Genre: Contemporary, Mainstream
Standalone/Series: Anthology
Publisher: Outskirts Press

As an anthology this doesn’t provide much material to munch on with its modest 100 pages, which makes it a think hardcover booklet for one rainy afternoon. My senses as a reviewer are a bit under a smokescreen as to how should I handle this title. The length of the anthology and of each individual story does not allow me to go about an individual review for each story, so I am taking back to the good old fashioned stream of consciousness technique, which would work best with this title.

Generally there comes a time, where I seek a break from people being killed, monsters lurking in every corner and a protagonist with a mission of some kind. So I look into the embrace of contemporary mainstream to search for the tidbits of regular life and to this extent “Little Stories” provides. In similar to vignettes style Roberts reveals in a slice-of-life manner random scenes in the life of people and also discusses topics, which will always pull a string in the human heart such as loss, identity and whether you really know another person. There is an autobiographical touch here and there, which brought me closer to the author. Within the validation that some of these stories are in fact a reality for someone, the reader can find life lessons or confirmation of his own experiences.

“Cosette” tops my list and closes the anthology by touching the subject of death, acceptance and closure in a saddening way. “Most Likely To Succeed” handles the topic of expectation from life, potential and the failure of realizing it, while “Relativity” exposes hypocrisy and narrow mindedness of the current century.

These, sadly, are the few highlights that I enjoyed, while the rest come off underdeveloped and confusing within their meaning. Considering the fact that the author has made a random selection from different phases of his writing career it’s natural to feel like reading unfinished or unedited work. I would have liked the author to have revised and expanded the ideas of his earlier stories, so that the maturity that came after his college year could have shown through and improved the anthology greatly.

I don’t think I would recommend this anthology to anybody, but it’s a manageable read under two hours, so it’s not too much time investment to take a dip, if one feels uncertain about it.


T.D. Newton said...

Sounds far too much like a literary exercise to me. Great for studying in your LIT-101 class, not so much for pleasure reading, particularly if you can tear through it in less than an hour.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

I actually liked the really short pieces. Grade 8th had as many as 16volumes, each around 600-800 pages, so the shorties were a blessing.

This is interesting for me, but as I said needed revisions.

Carl V. said...

I enjoy a good 'slice of life' story once in awhile, which is why I enjoyed both collections of Haruki Murakami short stories that I read last year. It was like he plunked the reader down into a persons' life and just let them sit there and watch for a space of time. Makes an interesting break from my loves: sci fi, fantasy, and gothic literature.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

Haruki as far as I know is a master of this genre and this entry here is rather a debut and does not grip as much, but the highlights in my opinion deserve attention. And I agree they make excellent brakes.

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