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Monday, September 10, 2012
12:49 pm edt
Today's entry is also posted on authorexposure.com.
West, a British writer living in Italy, has a quirkily vivid imagination, a weird sense of humor, and, as another reviewer
put it, a “jaundiced view of life”. These are evident in his latest e-book, Hobson's Choice and 15 other twist-in-the-tail short stories**, a collection of delightfully
addictive odd little vignettes that he wrote while hospitalized with lymphedema. They are, to say the least, reminiscent of
Rod Sterling’s vintage television series, The Twilight
Zone. As the title suggests,
each story ends with a twist; but not the typical surprise twisted ending that the average reader might expect.
I had planned to read just one tale in Hobson’s Choice before
tackling the day’s household chores. The first one was, meh, a little peculiar. But the next one was a nit better. By
the third, I was hooked, forfeited my tasks, and enjoyably spent the rest of the afternoon overdosing on West’s stories—each
one improving as I read along. The style of these tales runs the gamut of genres: from fictional literature (The bench, which would make a great play), through horror/thriller (Lost),
mystery (Dear John), science fiction (The
return of the Centaurus), and, via a bit of clairvoyant fantasy (Seeing
is believing), ends with the almost “perfect crime” (Last
orders)—a bit of something for everyone. Each is a glimpse into human foibles and flawed personality traits
as seen, albeit, through West’s cynical, but accurate view of our quirky world where people often treat others
as they shouldn’t, others have different opinions of us than we think they do, and everyone has a hidden agenda.
Enmeshed in West’s storytelling, I tried to guess the surprise ending of each story, but was pleasantly proved
wrong each time. Each resulted in an “aha” moment, pulled me up short, then pushed me on to the next unexpected
ending. However, while West is undoubtedly a talented writer, some of his twisted endings are jarringly cryptic and abbreviated,
as if he was in a distracted hurry to reach the conclusion. These left me dangling, looking for more complete, polished denouements.
This collection, I understand, is “typical” West—author of The Road , a novel¸ and a number
of non-fictional works—who goes far above and beyond the “archetypal”. He can easily be the atypical modern
day cross of O’Henry and Poe on steroids.
Caution: These stories have definitely deceptively dark sides,
despite their weird whimsy. This is a read intended just for adults. As West says in his Foreword, it is a look into "...other
dark facets of the human psyche". However, he does wish that the reader "derives as much pleasure from...them as
I have...writing them". That goes without saying
If you are looking for an interesting, out-of-the-ordinary
e-read to divert your mind from the mundane chores of daily life, my sage advice is, to paraphrase a trite saw, "Go West,
dear reader, go West."
** © 2012 Clive West. 170-pgs, Kindle Edition. Any Subject Books.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville
during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her fourth novel.