Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tales from the Good Ship KafkaBury

From the author's preface:
What can you say about Franz Kafka and Ray Bradbury except—what wonderful examples of the most precious freedom we have: the freedom of—imagination
That's certainly a high bar to aim for, an homage to Kafka and Bradbury. I opened this book with some amount of trepidation, because, honestly, there are a scant handful of stellar authors who could stand in a room with either Kafka or Bradbury and not suffer a lot by comparison.

I was unfamiliar with Bruce Taylor before reading this book and was very pleasantly surprised by the 26 (by my count) included 'stories'.  I use quotes around 'stories' because very few of them have an overall narrative story arc; for the most part, they're first person PoV vignettes.  Many of them are quite lyrical and almost poetic, they're all quite well written.  Mr. Taylor (aka Mr. Magical Realism) has a very strong and distinctive voice.  He's clearly not trying to be anyone else.  Several of the included pieces seemed very autobiographical or taken from real experiences.  One of the first lessons of writing is 'write what you know', and it's one that the author has clearly mastered.

I read a lot of books.  I find myself often reading a passage in a book and trying to recall where I've read something similar in tone and timbre to a passage.  That didn't happen one single time with this book.  I've literally never read anything that 'sounded' the same to me; nothing that 'went to the same place' in my brain.  The stories themselves are short (the book is 189 pages) and varied.  Like all collections, there are some that resonated more with me than others (that's why I love collections and anthologies).  They're all well written, some of them are very very good, and a few of them are outstanding.  I try to pick at least three standouts from any collection I review and in this case it was difficult since there were several really excellent vignettes. I finally settled on these three which spoke to me.

Watermelonmania - Magical realism with a healthy dose of surrealism in a techno coffee bar. This one's a lot of fun.

The Legend of the Slugosaurus - a truly silly but fun creation fable for anyone who has ever lived in a rainy climate and wondered why slugs exist.

Return - is a sweet and magical love story.

As an aside, these stories are fairly topical and there's quite a lot of current events in the included themes.  Many of them are also set in the Pacific Northwest USA, especially Seattle and environs.  I'm not sure how dated they'll be in 20 years, but right now they're very relevant, readable, enjoyable and well written.

189 pages
E-book and paperback formats. Paperback available via Amazon's printing service. DRM free e-book also available from the publisher.
Published by ReAnimus Press.

Four stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

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