December 28, 2012

book review: short stories for busy adults

Emily Benet offers readers an eclectic mix in Short Stories for Busy Adults. Each of the 10 short stories carries its own unique plot with a noticeable tone linking them into a cohesive collection.

Varying in perspective, voices and plot, the stories range from twisted or dark comedy to just plain dark. Set predominantly in Great Britain with a few trips south to the Continent, characters range from an anxiety-filled queen to an aimless young man coping with a breakup and lackluster life.

Here's a quick rundown of each of the stories:

An unlikely, but funny, account of Queen Elizabeth II hiding in the bathroom sipping tea to avoid the festivities surrounding her Diamond Jubilee.

While making a paper mache iguana with her boyfriend, a girl images the ultimate and somewhat elaborate downfall of their relationship.

Natural Selection
A person contemplates killing his or her seemingly waste of space neighbors as a form of the survival of the fittest.

Conchita and the Mating Pigeons
A controlling older woman deals with separation anxiety related to her daughter and investigates ways to tighten her hold.

Just a Scratch
A child deals with an overly protective germaphobic mother more obsessed with reports of viruses than what her child is doing.

Lemon Drizzle Cake
Three flatmates fight for the attention of the same girl and use various methods to woo her, but there can be only one victor.

The Leopard Man
An elderly woman invites the "leopard man" into her home to dispel it of a lingering negative energy, closer to her than she realizes.

While painting his mother's walls white, a man examines his life, the people in it and what his future holds beginning with tonight's New Year's Eve festivities.

They're Shooting a Horror Film in Our Living Room
A girl, who has written a horror movie for her brother to direct, sees the pressure of filming a convincing murder scene take its toll on everyone involved, especially the actor playing the murderer.

The Repossession
After learning he will lose his long-time home, a widower explores other options for an alternative lifestyle.

As someone who mostly reads novels, I'll admit it took me a couple of stories to get into the mindset of vignettes rather than full features. Eventually, I found myself more intrigued with the stories and connecting better with the characters as the stories continued.

Each character or story has a secret to reveal, some more deep than others. All featured characters with issues to resolve. Some were told from the perspective of -- for lack of a better word -- the baddie, which was particularly interesting. Even as these villains shared their story, you could kind of understand where they were coming from.

My favorites among the stories were "Lemon Drizzle Cake", "Harry" and "They're Shooting a Horror Film in Our Living Room." These ones had more character development, it seemed, and gave me more time to connect with the narrator or characters.

With 10 different stories of mixed lengths, this was a quick and easy read -- especially good for sneaking in a few moments of reading when pressed for time.

Rating: 4 of 5

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