Bruce Louis Dodson

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
This superbly written short story anthology showcases talented Awesome Indie authors from around the globe. Though from a variety of genres, the stories are all entertaining, contemporary and thought-provoking.   Indulge your taste for good fiction with this short story anthology by authors with bold new voices. Though from diverse genres, the stories share a contemporary and contemplative feel that will linger long after the reader has read the last one. Awesome Allshorts showcases talented authors from around the globe, many whose novels have received multiple honors, including Awesome Indies approved status. Stories selected by Tahlia Newland, Dixiane Hallaj and Richard Bunning.

Reviewed by Bill Kirton

5 Stars

First, a disclaimer. This volume contains a flash fiction story of mine but the review relates to the other 26 contributions. It’s entirely objective. If it weren’t, I’d be undermining my credibility as a reviewer.

The enigmatic subtitle of the collection, Last Days, Lost Ways, hints at disjunction, reflection, scenes in which a variety of voices recount departures, frustrations, lost or decaying loves. In fact, as you read from story to story, the variation in styles and subjects, the movement from striking characters to bleak or funny situations, the range of emotions provoked – all combine to make this a rich experience.

The authors all know how to grab the reader and draw him/her very quickly into the specifics of their settings and the mysteries of the characters and their obsessions. The mood swings from anxious to loving, sinister to funny, despairing to whimsical, futuristic to domestic, romantic to dystopian. Some stories are firmly set in an apparently mundane everyday world, but one unpicked by a character’s reactions to its pressures and interpretations of its moments. Others move straight into the paranormal or historical. But all touch on aspects of life, fears, relationships which will have echoes in readers’ own experience.

The anthology exemplifies the flexibility and continuing relevance of a form which is nowadays enjoying an overdue revival.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

5 Stars

Full disclosure: One of my short stories appears in this anthology. This review is about the others.

I did not expect these stories to move me as deeply as they did. Short works often struggle to pack a significant punch in their diminished wordcount, but the pieces contained in this collection rise to the occasion. Some had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Some brought tears to my eyes with their emotional depth. And some utilized unique writing styles so artfully that they should be studied in literature classes.

Like with any anthology, not everything in this book will appeal to every reader. But the breadth and depth of the writing styles, storylines, and people explored make it deserving of a spot on any avid reader’s shelf.

Reviewed by

Ignite

3 Stars

 

This is a collection of stories subtitled Last Days and Lost Ways. I received an Advanced Review Copy. It is not the final version. I don’t know if the stories will appear in this order but I found I didn’t really get on with most of those in the first half. The second half of the book picked up for me, but if I hadn’t been reading to review, I might easily have lost interest and abandoned it.

The writing was good. It was the definition of ‘story’ which didn’t click with me in some cases. To me, and I suspect, to many readers, a short story is a complete tale. Some of these read as, or maybe even were, excerpts from some longer work and I didn’t like that. I wanted closure.

The stories I liked best were Pearls, Home late, The Creator, Recipe for a Dinner Party, Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin; for the Devil to Show and A Matter of Trust. I enjoyed these stories and the feeling of having savoured a complete experience with them.

Reviewed by

Justin Spahn

5 Stars

As the husband of one of the authors in this anthology, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is!

I’ve read a few short story anthologies, and this one is definitely the most interesting. The collection is richly diverse in terms of subject matter, national origin and setting, narrative tone, length, and literary style. As I read, I found myself jumping from fantasy to vignette to full plots inspired by true events, and the transition somehow is fluid and seamless rather than jarring or distracting. Awesome Indies has managed to build an enjoyable whole out of various and disparate components!

Among my favorites in the lineup were ‘Clearing the Shed’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Chasing Dreams in the Time Left Over’, ‘Traffic’, ‘Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin’ for the Devil to Show’, ‘Home Late’, ‘A Matter of Trust’, ‘Pearls’, and what is likely the stylistic jewel of this collection, ‘Recipe for a Dinner Party’.

This anthology asked me interesting questions, presented me with some of my greatest fears in life, introduced me to new ideas not common in conventionally published shorts, and fed an interest in diverse snippets of literature that I didn’t even know I had.

To sum it up best, I’ll paraphrase one of the author’s descriptions regarding the virtues of the short stories collected in this anthology: The short form gives authors the opportunity to write in ways that couldn’t be sustained for an entire novel.

I recommend reading these shorts–open yourself up to unique experiences from authors all around the world who love writing so much that they publish themselves.

Reviewed by

Sandra Padgett

5 Stars

This collection of wonderful stories covers a variety of themes. From satire to thriller to contemporary life and much more. Each story gets your attention and keeps it from start to finish. They are thought provoking, with characters, dialogue and themes that are believable, but sometimes out in the twilight zone, which is what I like. I will be looking for more works by the various authors and follow them in the future. I received this free from Simon Townley for an honest review. Outstanding! Recommend to any and all.

Reviewed by

Annie Evett

5 Stars

Both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.

The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.

Each story has an incredible depth and texture to them, that, although is specific to its own style, melds beautifully as a collection. The human condition is explored where the reader is challenged to reassess their perspectives on stereotypes and events. Post apocalyptic tales sit comfortably with personalised stories like fragmented memories; separate, but with a golden thread holding them together. Heart-wrenching, whimsical, tear-jerking and lighthearted there is a story to suit all moods and readers tastes.

It is difficult to chose a favourite story, with a wrestling loving gran meeting her idol, to emotional trials of marriages breaking apart or forming, futuristic zombies and maids from a gentler time.

Authors are recognised in their own right with multiple honours and prizes and although the anthology is an eclectic mixture of genre, reading one after the other only highlights the complexity and intrigue each story brings.

A great book to stash into someones Christmas stocking for some fireside holiday reading, Awesome Allshorts is set to be a winner in your readers life.

 

 

Lost In Seattle

Lost in Seattle
Publisher:
Published: May 6, 2012
Lost in Seattle is the story of William Brenner. An educated male in his mid-fifties, Willie retains a dry sense of humor and a sharp perception of reality and hope, after being downsized out of a lucrative job and losing his home, marriage and lifestyle. Relocated to a small apartment in a rundown neighborhood south of Seattle, Willie struggles to survive, yet retains his self-respect. Lost is the fictional equivalent of Nickel and Dimed, painted against a post 9/11 contemporary background and a government less trusted every day.    

Reviewed 

5 Stars

I have an immense amount of respect for authors who can write about ordinary people’s ordinary lives and make them interesting. Only good writers can do this, and this author is one such person.

Lost in Seattle is about Willie, a man in his fifties who lost his engineering job and suddenly found himself one of the long term unemployed, trying to get by on temporary work at the lower end of the employment market. The book gives a vivid portrayal of what life in the USA is like for those who drift from one temp job to another, or who work in unskilled, lowly paid jobs. The jobs are boring, tiring  and sometimes dangerous, and the companies running them don’t  care about the workers. News headlines provide a depressing economic and political commentary that underscores the reality of Willie’s life and provokes impassioned comment from his coworkers. We are left in no doubt about the feelings of alienation felt by these underpaid workers. The politicians have left them in the lurch. The country belongs to the rich. No one cares about the workers. The only way Willie can get by is by putting everything on his credit card, and the more debt he accrues, the more credit cards he is offered. The whole system is stuffed.

The book isn’t as depressing as this makes it sound, however, because Willie finds friends amongst people who would never have rubbed shoulders with had he not been unemployed – a group of Vietnamese and an African American. There is also a love interest.

We meet Willie  several years after he has divorced his wife as he takes on yet another temp job at hideously low wages. The beginning of the book grabbed me with a horrific accident in a bakery. A man loses his hand. Willie helps him and they become friends. George is just one of the threads that weaves together to make this story. Lawyers take the stage and offer Willie a job if he’ll give a statement that will make it look like George was high on drugs and therefore culpable for the accident. The book shows us how difficult it is to make the moral decision when you’re owing 40,000 on credit card. George continues to raise moral issues for Willie and adds a lot of tension of the ‘will he get caught’ variety.

Then there is Alice, the sculptor, who adds a bit of spice to Willie’s life, and Mary, Willie’s Buddhist nun daughter who returns from 3 years in a monastery. She and her teacher, Iron Ma, provide a light metaphysical thread and the question of whether or not Willie might get back together with his wife is another story strand.

This books raises your awareness of and empathy for those who bear the brunt of the economic collapse in the USA , but it doesn’t have one strong story arc, rather several strands of fairly ordinary happenings that together keep you reading.

This isn’t a book for those who demand a lot of action or a gripping plot. It doesn’t build up to a climax, rather it just keeps trucking along, as life does.  Nevertheless, the author manages to write enough tension into fairly ordinary scenes to keep you reading, and he concludes if well by tying up the various threads, but suggesting that even this positive ending may not stay that way for long.

The book is well crafted and edited. There’s nothing extraneous in it. The copy editing is good and the prose is well written. The characters are all strong and I cared about Willie from early in the book, though I would have liked to have seen more obvious development in his character. I had a sense that he had come to accept his situation and be happier for it, but I think that could have been made more obvious.

It’s a good book for those who enjoy contemporary fiction with a social conscience. I give it 4 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies list.

I received it free in return for an honest review.