Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Here is Everything

Read 2/24/10
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with author and/or genre

The staff over at Harper Perennial are such wonderful people - keeping my bookshelves stocked to the gills with new releases and review copies. A very big thank you for sending this one on over.

I sat down this morning to start ANOTHER collection of short stories, this one from author Justin Taylor. After completing it just a short 16 hours later, I was forced to admit two things: One, that I can really do some damage when I buckle down and focus on reading. Two, that I am also starting to enjoy short stories.

They are short and sweet. They get right to the point. There are no long-winded, uninteresting side-stories that pull you unwillingly away from the main plot. They don't have time for that. They are forced to be focused.

If you feel like you just aren't into the characters or storyline, you don't have to feel guilty wasting time on it. It's only a few pages long. And the author has multiple opportunities to catch your interest, to suck you in, to make you a fan.

Justin Taylor, who is currently at work creating his first full length novel, can certainly write. There is no doubt about it. While there are recurring themes in this collection (religion, drugs and sex being a few of the more obvious), each story truly stands alone as far as it's themes and messages are concerned.

In one story, we meet a man who is left to clean up the mess after angels steal his girlfriends soul. In another, a boy plays Tetris while watching as the Apocolypse destroy the world outside his window and his girlfriend sleeps on the floor. Many of Taylor's stories revolve around broken relationships. They are populated by people who are confused, lonely, heartbroken, or just don't care.

To be honest, his stories are populated by the exact same people I used to sit back and watch destroy themselves in high school. People who were just outside my social circle. Friends of my friends. Faces you recognized from party to party. They were the kids in the background, dropping acid or smoking pot, curling into the fetal position and crying when they had a bad trip. Hitting on everyone, sometimes on anyone, but not willing to commit when their overtures were returned. Or turning suicidal and stalkerish when their love-calls were ignored.

A very quick read, a must read for people who are already fans of short stories.

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