This review was written for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. I received a copy of this book from the author to review.
“Good fiction presents plausible problems. Chekhov maintained that the artist is not required to solve the problem but to correctly formulate it. I feel cheated when an author provides a tidy package without allowing me to participate in wrapping it up. I’d hate to deny my readers the opportunity of struggling with the problems I’ve formulated. In grappling with them, the reader will decide if they’ve been correctly formulated.”
When I saw these words in the preface, my heart sank. I don’t want to grapple with problems. I do that all day. When I settle in to read I want all the hard work done for me. I guess I want to be cheated with tidy packages. It’s also been my experience that when an author or screenwriter makes these claims, it usually feels like they were just lazy and couldn’t figure out how to finish the book or movie they were working on. I’m very relieved this wasn’t true of Ron Yates and these offerings.
I really enjoyed these stories and didn’t feel I was left hanging after finishing any of them. That’s not to say it was all over as soon as the last page was turned. I still find images and thoughts of most of these stories popping into my head at odd times, especially “I Sank the Mandolin.”
I love the way Ron Yates writes — direct and to the point — and his style was quite refreshing. There isn’t a word in these stories that doesn’t belong and make sense; no verbose scene-setting to skim through. But you still get that feeling of, say, exploring the old abandoned barn. And you still know enough about the characters to actually care about what happens to them, or to realize you have people in your own life who are just like that.
This is a short book and a quick, thought-provoking read.