A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy
|A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A wonderfully disparate set of short stories pulled together by the way ordinary people experience unexpected or momentous events.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 218||Date: February 2017|
I love short stories, so I'm always happy when a new collection arrives for review. A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy promises me a compilation of short stories that highlight the adventures of diverse characters as each encounters unforeseen challenges. I like this premise. So how does the book shape up? Some highlights:
The first story, Old Spies' Reunion, is great. Colum Johnston is looking forward to a reunion with his former comrades who also spent time during the Cold War in Moscow as intelligence agents. But he gets more than he bargains for. It's a tale of the duplicity of the institutions of the secret deep state but also a reminder that individual actors within them are just people: people like you and me. And also that your past never leaves you entirely.
I also loved Lucky Mischance. Jeremy is an old man and has never won anything of note in his whole and long life. Until now. His entry has been chosen as the best in a competition to name a new chain of restaurants and Jeremy is on his way into the city to collect his prize - a holiday in any European city of his choice. There will be press attention and everything. But he gets on the wrong bus, arrives in the wrong place, and the day is ruined. Or is it? Well, yes it is. But not in the way Jeremy thinks. And Lady Luck is still on his side. This one reminded me of just how random life can be.
There are eighteen of these little nuggets but I won't spoil any more for you. Suffice it to say that there's also a nun's funeral, a journey of genealogical research that morphs into something entirely different, and even a murder mystery with a cemetery at is heart. So yes, A Fanfare of Tales is a wonderfully disparate collection of short stories. But the book's synopsis is correct: I think there really is a theme tying them together - what happens when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people? Or when ordinary people are catapulted into the middle of extraordinary events? This makes all the stories both accessible and absorbing because you can imagine yourself living any one of them.
Reidy has a clear, precise and elegant writing style, of the kind that suits the short story format. He doesn't waste any words or divert the reader's attention with much in the way of exposition. The dialogue flows and he doesn't overdo it. It's all about the story and he succeeds admirably in commanding the reader's attention. I read all eighteen stories in one pleasurable sitting. There's a range of characters, situations and settings so broad that there's something for every particular interest. But the whole is universal enough that it will appeal to everyone. Which, when you think about it, is exactly what you want in a collection of short stories.
I enjoyed A Fanfare of Tales and I'd certainly read more by Patrick C Reidy.
If short stories with a keen sense of place are your thing, you might also enjoy The Woodpecker Menace by Ted Olinger about the Key Peninsula on the Puget Sound. They are highly evocative and encapsulate American rural life with a great panache. And if you like stories so short that they could come under the flash fiction banner, try 52FF by Marc Nash.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy at Amazon.com.
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