Stories: 13 tantalising tales by Richard F Walker

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Stories: 13 tantalising tales by Richard F Walker

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A satisfying collection of short stories, many featuring ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. To be savoured.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 181 Date: April 2022
Publisher: Independently published
ISBN: 978-8649117715

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A news vendor is crying out the headlines in the middle of the night; a wheelchair user loses touch with reality when he tries walking around in his imagination; a stickler for correct grammar goes back in time to correct an iconic quote; a volunteer teacher proves the ideal person to have around in a lawless village; the new boy on the pub football team is very useful with his feet, and awfully familiar…

This collection of thirteen short stories by Richard F Walker has a lot to offer the eclectic reader. Tying them together is the idea that remarkable and strange, even miraculous, things can happen to ordinary people. And that ordinary doesn't mean boring or uninteresting. Form and tone varies so this little treasury of short fiction is never boring and you're never quite sure what's coming next.

The opening story, The News Vendor is one of my favourites and whets your appetite for more. Anwar, just about to begin research for his doctorate at a new university, rents a budget flat near to the Stanley Merryweather pub and its cheap-for-broke-postgrad pints. Everything's looking good. But why is the newspaper vendor outside the tube station shouting headlines in the middle of the night? And why is everybody else ignoring him, oblivious? This is a story about good news and bad news and how it makes us feel. I didn't expect the direction it took!

I also enjoyed The May Queen in which Tracy, after a lifetime of being outshone by superficial judgements, does a wonderfully courageous thing and finally understands that beauty really is only skin deep. And Galileo's Assistant in which the hapless Gerardo gets in the great man's way. And then there's Call Henry Butterworth, written entirely in dialogue, which covers a court case and skewers an incompetent bureaucracy and justice system with utterly absurd and laugh-out-loud humour.

I always enjoy a good short story, especially when there's some tension and jeopardy involved as there often is here, and if the dialogue is punchy, as it is here, and if the ideas illustrate little encapsulations of the highs and lows and the joys and fears of human existence, as they do here. The writing is evocative and tight and no story goes on for longer than it should or finished before you're ready.  I'd like to see volume two from Walker, if there are more of these ideas swishing around in his writing mind. 

If you like your short stories, you could also try Exhalation by Ted Chiang for a sci-fi theme, or if you want to be very niche, there's Going To The Last: Short Stories About Horse Racing by K D Knight all about the sport of kings.

You can read more about Richard F Walker here.

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Buy Stories: 13 tantalising tales by Richard F Walker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stories: 13 tantalising tales by Richard F Walker at Amazon.com.

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