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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Romance Author Reviews Short Story Collection

Title: Five Good Short Stories - Volume 1

Author: Sam E. Jones
Author's web link site: Http://
Genre or Category: Fiction, short stories

 Reviewed by Anne Barbour

Sam E. Jones offers us a four-volume package of five short stories each. Following the review guidelines I’ll speak only of Vol. I. It is aptly entitled Five Good Short Stories, Vol. I. The stories are very short, and very, very good. He writes in a quirky, sort of avant garde style, which is not my favorite genre. Being a reader and writer of novels—frivolous novels, at that—I rarely read short stories.. However, when I was introduced to Mr. Jones’ work, I thought I’d avail myself of this reasonably priced ($4.99 per volume) opportunity to stretch my mind. To my surprise, I was delighted.

Mr. Jones, I think, is a born stretcher of minds. His writing consists of finely crafted slices of life, and he can produce more insight into the human condition in a few hundred words than most writers contrive in several thousand. He pulls us into little wedges of his protagonist’s time on this planet, thus leaving the reader feeling that he has turned over some of the many secrets that scurry in the darkness of our own souls. The results are at times exhilarating, painful at others, but always revealing.

Mr. Jones’ short stories are rare, individual treasures. I don’t mean precious jewels, though the comparison is appropriate. No, reading his tales is more like walking along an alien seashore—perhaps encountering small, exotic marine creatures, or a tiny windswept bird. I love the diversity he displays, pursuing in each story a different facet of what seems to the casual observer an ordinary person. With precision he peels away the layers, revealing fascinating bits of mind and soul. Some of the vignettes are charming, some poignant, and others are belly-tickling funny.
As I said, his style is unusual and difficult to describe. He often writes in the first person, which is uniquely suited to his custom of starting his stories off in the middle of a situation. Just as often, the situation is not resolved at the end of the story. We are left with a plateful of clues, and the compelling need to roll the plights of his people around in our minds in an effort to figure out what will come after we have turned the last page.

All in all, I do recommend the occasional mind-stretch, particularly when it comes in the form of such a pleasurable read. By me, Sam Jones is a real find, and I hope he will turn out many more of his explorations of the human scene.

~The reviewer is Anne Barbour, author of fourteen Regency Romance novels, published by NAL/Signet, a subsidiary of Penguin Putnam.

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