Saturday, 3 January 2015

Book Review - In Shambles, edited by Samantha LaFantasie

This book reminded me of the bags of lollies we used to buy as children. 'Twenty cents worth of mixed lollies', we'd say, naively casting ourselves on the generosity of the shop ladies, which generally worked out a lot better than we deserved. There'd be some of everything, some of the coveted Cobbers, everyone's favourite, and also some of the despised el cheapo Milk Bottles et alia.

In the same way, this book is a mixed bag, containing some really wonderful stories, and some that are.... well, there was always one kid who liked Milk Bottles.

Deserving of special mention were The Old Kodak, Raising Rudi, Samaritan and my personal favourite, Four Houses Down. I just can't say how much I enjoyed it. The book is worth buying for that one story alone.

I also very much enjoyed Wildman - the technique of telling the story around a whole collection of first person accounts by minor characters is, although not new, something I always enjoy, and it was very creditably excecuted, although I'd have liked to see the different characters' language more strongly differentiated and I'd have left off the last section, as I felt the reader was made well aware of what happened through the story. An epilogue telling the reader what really happened shouldn't be necessary if the writer has done his job, and Mr Woods certainly did his job well enough.

Mama also pleased me greatly. A chilling tale, and somehow the writer succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of an old Japanese film. Sadly, it was spoiled for me by very poor English.

I note that Samaritan and The Hand Me Down were edited, and I must say I think it a great pity that Mr Duckworth did not extend his editorial hand to all of the stories.

Finally, something I seem to say about independent books with depressing regularity - insufficient attention has been given to presentation. The proofreading appears to have been rather sloppy. All in all though, an entertaining read, with a few exceptions.

In Shambles is available from AMAZON.

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