I write, read and review, I blog frequently and love anything to do with books and writing, including editing. I am a Book Nerd and I wear that badge with pride. http://coffee2words.wordpress.com
This book made me think, it made me stop and go 'WTF!', it made me smile and it made me want to know where to get the drugs some of the characters were on in the story.
If I was to provide you with one word to describe this collection of 26 unrelated stories, it would not be dark, or disturbing (but then avid followers of mine would know I am not easily distrubed and the darker the better in my opinion), it would instead, be: Twisted.
Twisted for many reasons, primary among them, the way in which the reader is led down the path of stories, thrust from one POV to another, from one style of writing to another. The way the mind-fuck shorts make you wonder what on earth could happen next, right through to the deep and profound insight into the recesses of people's minds being laid bare before your very eyes.
I found a great quote nestled among the insanity, coffee and cigarettes:
"The thought that gnaws at the essence, the thought that bounces from one neuron to the next, vibrating in the soft lining of one's skull. The thought that we fear and cherish at the same time, for it scares us while giving us hope; the thought that sparks a fire somewhere deep, in a place we knew existed long ago but failed to nourish."
The writing is at times poetic and touching and at others as blunt as the head of a hammer. If you're not sure what type of writing you're in the mood for, you could pick this one up and will likely find something that will tickle your fancy.
My thoughts on some of the stories:
Francine: I love the innuendo that is constantly challenged. Short, sweetly dark and fairly twisted. (There's that word again - right at the beginning of the book too!)
Being True to Self: I think that must be what it's like to be tripping!
Chuck's Last Cigarette: I liked this one. A glimpse into the mind of Chuck. It felt a little perverse baring witness to that, but also devilishly taboo and wild at the same time.
Perpetual Sadness: This made me think of Cloud Atlas a little, how the same two words meant such different things to those involved.
Gardening Dilemma: A wicked little story with a sting in the tale.
Mousetraps: I have read a similarly constructed story by Stephen King. I think because this is a short story it lacked the level of sensory detail King could be heavy-handed with to build a more frantic and fevered pace. Nevertheless, this was an interesting tale...
Privilege: Dare I say it? I wanted this to push the boundaries of my comfort... It fell a little short. Close, but no cigar.
Preoccupied: Perfect title!
Awake: This provides glimpses of a tale that is begging to be told. Who lives without electricity? An Amish person? Why would they live in civilization like that? So many questions.
Progress: This reminded me of stories my grandad used to tell me of his time in Ireland as a child. The written dialogue at the end especially. Interesting frame of mind, but I guess one doesn't know what that would be like until it happens to them.
Alone in her room: This was a fun one. I liked the different personalities, the trading and rivalry. Interesting idea, how we interact with inanimate objects, how that could be perceived from outside... The tales the bathroom door could tell!
Dirt: I liked this, the gradual unwrapping of what happened. I didn't think the last 4 words were needed, the sentence before was plenty strong enough.
Freak: One of the best stories of the collection. It was dark, yet surprisingly emotional.
So, with that all said, if you would like to experience some of the most surprising, emotional and thought-provoking short stories, try out Henry's collection now, but be warned it does contain adult material.
**Note: I was provided with an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**