Book Review: 20 Short Ones

From the description_80_140_Book.1182.cover20ShortOnes

Human relationships can be intriguing, heartbreaking, funny, frustrating, and soulful – sometimes all at the same time. Journey through the relationships of 20 separate and unique sets of characters in the new short story collection 20 Short Ones. As you travel the world, from Northern Ireland to New York, and places in between, you’ll get a snapshot experience and an opportunity to emotionally relate to the age-old mystery of how friendships (romantic or otherwise) happen.

My Comments

I have to admit, I was at a loss as to how to approach this review when it came time to sit down and actually write the review. Writing is such a personal thing and to publish one’s writing takes courage and faith. Therefore, when I read a book I try to approach it with an open mind, especially if I am going to a review on the book. A piece of writing can almost be like a “child” to an author, especially when he or she spends a lot of time working on a particular piece of writing. I always want to, and try to, honor the work the author put into his or her writing, and 20 Short Ones is no exception.

In fact, with all the 4 and 5 star ratings, I was genuinely looking forward to reading this book. I love short stories, especially ones focused on relationships, and so when I had the opportunity to read 20 Short Ones, I jumped at the chance. Then I read the book – and promptly procrastinated in writing the review. I just wasn’t sure how to be honest without sounding harsh or too critical.

My biggest problem with the book has to do with the point of view in which the stories are written. They are written from an omniscient point of view (POV), rather than a limited third person point of view, at least that is they way it seems to me. In the omniscient POV, the narrator is “all-knowing” and flits in and out of the minds of all the characters instead of the story being told from one (or two) main characters. Writing from an onmiscient POV is hard to pull off, and in the case of 20 Short Ones, the omniscient POV makes the stories disjointed and sometimes hard to follow.

To make it worse, every story had at least two or more parenthetical asides that are unnecessary, disruptive, and often add nothing to the story.  I can be wrong, but I think the parenthetical asides are included to flesh out the back story of many of the characters or to include information that author thinks the reader needs to know, however, they don’t work. Instead, the asides seem like they are there to act as filler just to make the stories a little longer, as opposed to moving the stories along or adding value.

Also, the author makes it beyond clear that he has a problem with organized religion, of all kinds. I don’t have an issue with the belief itself, even though as a devout Catholic, I disagree. I completely respect his right to his beliefs. However, he pushes his point to ad nauseam. His distaste for organized religion is so in your face that by the time I was halfway through the book I was thinking, “Okay, I get it. You don’t like organized religion. Let’s move on now.” To his credit, all organized religion, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc is fair game, and he is respectful in the way he “puts down” (for lack of a better expression) each faith. I do wish he had done a little more research about the Catholic faith because his understanding of the faith, particularly purgatory, is way off base. Then again, I know many people born and raised Catholic whose understanding and knowledge of the faith is way off base too. 🙂

As for the stories themselves, the basic story lines of most of the stories are good, and I like how the various stories centers on different types of relationships and that they aren’t all romance. The first story, “Agee” is a little odd, and as the mom of a nine-year-old, disturbs me. The last story, “For Emily” confuses me and it seems like it is two separate stories thrown together instead of one. Moreover, some of the other stories feel incomplete as if they are chapters of a longer book instead of stories in and of themselves.  However, “Lunch Among the Aliens” is cute and kept my attention,  and “Mercy” does tackle forgiveness in an interesting way.

Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot recommend 20 Short Ones; however, with some editing and shift in point of view, the book can be improved drastically and be really good. I give 20 Short Ones two (2) stars.

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(Linked to Sunday Snippets)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Comments

  1. I think you did a very good job of being respectful in your review of a book you did not like. The reality is that if you get books from programs like Book Look there will be times when you get books you wish you hadn’t, and when those programs require reviews, they know they’ll get a few less than positive ones.
    RAnn…recently posted…Sunday Snippets–A Catholic CarnivalMy Profile

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