Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Patterns That Repeat

Read 2/16/10
4 Stars - Strongly recommended
Pgs:37 (eBook/freedownload)

This book was brought to my attention by Jason Pettus, owner of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography , for which I would like to thank him. And also a big thank you to it's author, Ben Tanzer, who has been a great sport - patiently waiting for me to read and review this collection of short stories.

Are you finding it strange that, being a self professed non-fan of short stories, I am reading short story collections back to back this week? I think it is time to re-evaluate my position on them, as Ben Tanzer stands up and demands to be noticed in Repetition Patterns.

I admit to being slightly underwhelmed as I read the first story, which happens to be the title story - just some guy unhappy with his therapist, whose unprofessional accusations cause him to start up with a new therapist. While reading Babysitter and What We Thought We Knew, as I was introduced to a town of neighboring kids and their promiscuous tendencies, and pedophile parents, I started to wonder what I had signed myself up for.

The third story, however, entitled Gift, demonstrates how wonderful sound can be, and how silence can remind us of what we are not hearing. It also forces you to realize how precious every moment is, and how we may tend to take them all for granted.

Among others, we meet a strange boy who becomes obsessed with a girl in his school, and rages against what he can't have; a teenager who spends months in a Pac Man daze only to be let down by the final level; and confused new parents who want nothing more than to get their infant son to just stop screaming.

Early on, I started to recognize patterns - the movies the characters watched, the names of places the characters saw or visited, the raw sexual undertones that ravaged their town and their lives. I also became aware of a natural evolution of maturity and security, and of accepting things for what they are, without resigning yourself to them. It's these patterns, these repetitive moments, that make Ben's book work.

I look forward to reading more from him. Check out this book, and also take a peek at his blog - This Blog Will Change Your Life.


  1. Short story collections are strange things indeed. If I find myself wandering from an early story, then I often just move on to something else altogether. However, strong short story collections are exhilerating. Great review; they just get better and better.

  2. It certainly helps when the stories are all written by one author. I tend to get bogged down by different writing styles and unconnected storylines. Ben works some magic by interweaving most stories in very subtle ways. Jesse, you can download this for a donation, or for free, by accessing it through the CCLaP website. Check it out.

  3. I am not a huge reader of short stories myself, although that's because I don't really have that many on my shelf. I do find that reading them is a kind of adventure, there is always one gem at least that stands out - that's the beauty of a short story collection, because they're short stories if you don't particularly like one it's over with pretty swiftly but there's bound to be a couple that make it well worth the read.

    Great cover!

  4. Thanks for your astute analysis of this book, Lori; you mirrored mine and Ben's thoughts in many ways when we were first putting this manuscript together. I hope you like CCLaP's second book just as much!

  5. Jason, thanks for your comment. When I review books, at times I wonder if I am seeing what the authors intended - Fearful of either "over-analysing" or "under-analysing". Your post allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief :)

  6. And I just want to thank you for your thoughtful and generous review. It is much appreciated.

  7. Awwww. shucks. You are very welcome Ben!! It was fun being able to read it and review it... not to mention chat with you about it. Those interview questions are coming, I promise!