Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson ~ Fiction Book Review

 

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This book, originally written in Norwegian, has probably lost a lot in translation. Told from the perspective of an aging man who has moved to a secluded cabin in the wilderness to be by himself, it is a coming-of-age tale, both of his teenage years as narrator Trond reflects upon his youth, and as an old man as he ruminates about his current situation. Even after translation, the story is beautifully written.

My issue with this book, however, is that I was waiting for something that never happened. The big payoff, the defining moment, the climax – call it what you will, it never happened for me. There were plenty of smaller events, but no one big pivotal moment. Or maybe I just missed it. Chances are that I’ve been spoiled by mainstream fiction and its cheap thrills. This was a lovely book, it really was. I just prefer books with a little more action than self exploration. However, it has won a TON of awards, so it was definitely worth checking out. 4 stars.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld ~ Fiction Book Review

18142324This book! Powerful prose oozing with ominousness, the pages practically sticky with sinisterness! The timeline was a little jumpy, disconcerting at first, but the pattern is quickly established and I soon developed a strange appreciation for it. The chapters alternate present and past, with the present moving forward, the past lapsing deeper and deeper into days gone by.

The reader is filled with anticipation while being unable to pinpoint the cause of suspense, knowing only that menace lurks somewhere in the shadows nearby. It was literary without being dull or boring, the refined edges sharp enough to cut yourself on. I can’t say I understood all of the slang, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the main character, an Aussie living on a remote island off the coast of Britain. A quick read that portrays a perfect example of how to break the rules of grammar the right way. Impactful writing, eloquent imagery, a beautiful work of art. 5 stars!

 

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014 ~ Book Review

wpb14One of my goals for this year was to win an award for one of my short stories. Maybe an O. Henry Award is a bit ambitious, but when I stumbled across this anthology, I thought I might as well read what the competition was up to. That said, book read, I’m thinking I might focus my efforts on mystery story awards. It’s not that the stories in this book weren’t good, because they were, it’s just that with a short story, where an author has a very finite amount of time and space to make their impression, what resonates with me are stories that linger. By that I mean stories that I’m still thinking about days, weeks, months, sometimes even years later. I don’t feel that any of the stories in this anthology will linger with me.

This is, perhaps, (probably and most likely) a personal issue. Literature is writing about everyday life in a way that you strike a chord with the reader. You present something that they can relate to, something they identify with and thus make your impression, making the mundane memorable. In genre writing, such as mystery, you have the unfair advantage of crafting a plot that doesn’t necessarily have its roots planted in reality. Real life doesn’t impress me nearly as much as a plot twist that blindsides me, leaving me shocked and breathless. The last short story anthology I read was Eighteen by Jan Burke and I thought it was incredible. It’s been two months and a few of the stories are still as fresh in my mind as if I just read them. I can still recall most of them. I’d be hard pressed to remember any of the stories in this book next month. Again, my biased and personal opinion. Four stars.

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