Book Review: As Told by Things

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Book Review: As Told by Things Edited by E.D.E. Bell
(Atthis Arts, LLC, Pub Date 05 Jun 2018)

As a kid, I read a story, “Autobiography of a Coin” – where the coin spoke about its worthless situation in pocket of a wealthy person, how it escaped, and then through its adventure found its way to hands of a poor kid who gave it proper respect. I still remember it.

So, when I came across this book, “As Told by Things” on Netgalley, it had instant attention. And I was not disappointed. This anthology had many pluses running for it – it is loaded with creativity and imagination; and compared to other anthologies, this has some excellent writing, and memorable stories. Obviously, its fun to read and imagine things being spoken (or speaking about themselves) as a living creature. And the stories range from fun to total weird, and also from inanimate to intangible.

Some stories are told in first person, some in third person. The book is easy to read (some books in SFF genre can be real difficult), and that way it connects with the readers. What use is a book that indulges in artistic complexity only to end up as not being understood or enjoyed. Reading should be an effortless flow, and this book understands it well.

Some of the stories that I liked, were “The Lady at the Bar” by B.C.Kalis,

“I’d felt a chill run through me as she approached, and I was frozen stiff as she sat down next to me. But when she looked at me…and smiled…it was…the “I want you” smile. The type that doesn’t just make you feel needed, but desired. Everything started to melt; pure light began to build inside of me, expanding into every part of my being…”

Another was “Imago Mundi” by Evan Dicken

“I am a history, a culture. I am a belief, ownership, order. I am a …”

to know more, you will have to read the story.

“Stewardship” by Holly Schofield was another interesting story with a theme

“Love Letter” by Avily Jerome was an interesting take on a very common tool, which has over the years got discarded in favor of technology.

“His fingers brushed over me, a smooth caress – an almost unconscious touch at first as he lightly toys with me. His touch runs from top to bottom and back again. He holds me tenderly and his lips graze against my head. The heat of his touch ignites a fire in my blood.”

Most wierd was the story by Robert Dawson. But then, creativity is in the book.

A short-short-short story “Tragedia” by E.D.E. Bell was another interesting one to read.

“B.H.S.” by BethAnn Ferrero, “Tuff” by C. Flynt, and “Peter the Paper Clip” by John Darling were the other stories that I found interesting.

After reading all these short stories, I concluded that the stories which stood out (at least the ones I enjoyed reading) had the following ingredients:

1) They engaged the reader with some human connection on a personal level. Obviously all these things are in connection with humans. But those that were stories only about the object were not engaging enough as the connection could not be made.

2) The stories that kept the reader guessing about the object of the story, gave an element of suspense and intrigue, and were throughly engaging. The writing style increased the engagement.

3) Stories with themes that connected with human society in general and alluded to the “what-if” element of speculative fiction took the story to another level.

And yes, it has lots of “show not tell”. Overall, a creative book to have and read.

Copyright © Anup Mukherjee

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