Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Shelby R. Lee III
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
enthusiasm for writing permeates this collection of short stories (or
‘volumes’, as he calls them). Most definitely they are not in the
conventional short story mode, so don’t expect a snappy beginning,
middle and end. Rather, they are sketches of characters and scenes
written in a stream of consciousness style, in a way that is
reminiscent of Lee’s literary doyen, William Faulkner. One can
readily tell that the author is a Southerner, who has been exposed to
much of the harshness of life. He, in fact, refers to himself as “a
survivor in the key of life.” His stories are not for the
faint-hearted, being gritty, zestful and, in places, harsh, as he
exposes the vulnerability of members of the human race.
Using relatively little dialogue, but a great deal of discussion of inner musings, Lee covers a wide range of characters in the thirteen stories, of which the most memorable I found to be “Boy Freud,” which deals with the perversions of a psychologist. A sense of redemption is lacking from these tales, and, being relatively unstructured as they are, they leave one with an almost indefinable sense of unease. For those who are keen on yachting, “All Points North” should prove to be of great interest, dealing as it does with the rivalry existing in a regatta, with all concerned fiercely contending for the trophy of the day.
One aspect of stream of consciousness expression tends to be the use of extremely long sentences. The reader need have no fear on this account, though, as the longest sentences that are included in this book tend to be those in the Foreword, in which Lee describes the role of writing in his life. If you’re more interested in the story than in the process, you could safely skip this section of the book. Personally, I find such descriptions quite fascinating, though (most probably because I enjoy writing myself). The following sentence clearly exhibits Lee’s penchant for stream of consciousness composition: “Then suddenly I was moving fast to my writing table, grabbing another legal pad, a new pen, then, deep into the night, with near heart failure, sitting, writing and thinking, and it was so painful to capture on paper, it came out of me so fast, so difficult to capture on paper, it seemed as though it was being fed to my head telepathically, but there were different phases of long thinking with little writing.” As I say, there isn’t anything like that in the course of the stories, and, even though All Points North bears minimal resemblance to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, it is worthwhile reading, as long as you don’t expect the sketches to conform to the requirements of the conventional short story genre.
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