I’m on a bit of a short story collection marathon at the moment. They’re all I want to read at the moment, which is different for me as I’m usually a novel man. But right now I seem to be always looking ahead to the next collection I can get my grubby, bloodstained hands on.
I’ve reviewed a couple on this very blog, and am planning on reviewing some more (once I read them). Not every collection I’ve read recently has been reviewed, and that’s because I haven’t enjoyed some of them too much. But instead of posting a negative review of them here or on Goodreads and Amazon, I decided against it. I don’t want to go damaging these books’ average rating and slamming an author for their work not being my cup of tea. I’ll just keep my ‘meh, it was OK but that’s about it’ thoughts to myself. There’s some shit about karma to think about.
Random, waffling intro aside, Itch by A. A. Medina is the latest collection to be reviewed. So, judging by that last paragraph up there, that says that I enjoyed these stories, doesn’t it? Exactly!
So, on with the review.
There are some pretty fucked up things going on in these here pages, I can tell you. This collection is full of some great wince-inducing ideas. I suppose I would have liked a bit ‘more’ with some of these, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, on the contrary. I suppose you could call these stories horror prick teases, if you get where I’m coming from.
I would liken this book to a grindcore album; blistering, unrelenting, then finished. But it’s cool, you can always hit ‘play’ again. Many of the stories are bordering on flash fiction length (I think, I didn’t count the words or anything) while the last story is the epic finale, although it’s not exactly a long piece.
Things start off with the hauntingly creepy Every Night. The imagery here is great, and I was right there with the main character as he’s driven mad by that sound he hears every single night. What is that sound, though? Well, it’s not a good thing.
After the creepy first story, things go full-on brutal in Traditions. A couple who have had their problems try to reconcile everything at Christmas. It sounds like just what they need to get their relationship back on track, and what a perfect time of the year for it. But bad things happen, well of course they do. By now I’d got a pretty good understanding of the abhorrent terrors in this book. I was loving it.
From Ripples to Waves was one story that I craved more from. But not in a bad way. This was one where people may say it’s too much, what a horrible thing to happen, I can’t read any more. But I wasn’t saying that, no no noooo. Maybe I’m just a sicko, though.
I suppose the hidden message in Matchbook is don’t cheat on your man, and definitely not with his friend. Especially if your man is Allen. He didn’t take it too well.
Blueberry Pancakes is a tale of domestic abuse and Cynthia’s strength to try and end it. The abuse has been going on for a long time and after each bout, blueberry pancakes are the make-up breakfast. The taste is one of relief, as the abuse is over for a time, but soured with the memory of the violence. I did like the metaphor here, blue bruises?
The Neglectful Arms of Morpheus is a flash fiction piece, or more accurately a flsh fctn, as it was over in seconds. I liked the setting and the language, and assume it’s to do with the Greek god of sleep, but I can’t be sure. A bit of a head scratcher for me. I hope that was the point, but probably not!
To finish things off we’re treated to The Toptheth Pedigree, the longest story on offer here (I think). What a great way to end. When Trish, pregnant with the child of a bloke she’s not exactly in love with, goes to visit his parents for the first time in a mansion in the woods, she gets a glimpse into the real family she’s getting involved in. These aren’t the greatest in-laws someone could hope for. It’s kind of like Rosemary’s Baby, kind of.
So all in all this was a great collection. OK, it was a little short but that’s surely a compliment as if I was moaning about it being too long it would make the book seem boring. And it definitely ain’t that!
I believe this is the first collection from A. A. Medina, and his stories and style are great. I have heard good things about his debut novel, Siphon, so will be checking this out as soon as I’ve finished my overdose on short stories!
Categories: book review