Author: Neil Schiller
ISBN: 9781456446673
Publisher: CreateSpace

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This is a wonderful collection of short stories.  I enjoyed the sparse prose, the evocative description, and the fact that although the stories are all about different people, male and female, they could almost merge into one.  All the main characters are struggling in some way.  The themes of difficult family relationships, addiction, regret, depression, guilt, repeat themselves over and over.  Schiller has created real characters; these could be people you pass in the street.  Schiller has stripped away the layers that ordinary people use to hide their true circumstances or feelings, and gone beneath to examine and reveal the underbelly of human nature.  We are taken right inside the characters’ homes, hearts, and minds.  Schiller has mastered the art of short story and likes to show off about it too.  He has included a one sentence story, ‘Trapped’, and a half a page story, ‘Half’—both of which are perfect—and the latter is one of my favourites in the collection.  

descriptive prose is fresh and original.  An example of his writing, from, ‘Brand Awareness’, a story about a man facing redundancy:  “
I’ve squandered six years of my life on this job.  More if you count the myriad of spoiled hopes it pulled into the swirling vortex of its black heart.  I’ve commuted over twelve thousand miles; I’ve missed my daughter’s first steps, first words, first school play; I’ve worked and slept and stressed myself into an isolation around which my wife has built a new life to compensate.  And it was all for nothing.”

And from, ‘Sabotage’, about a man estranged from his young son. “
In the midst of the other families, in the kinetic frenzy and shrill excitement of the afternoon, we are silent and desperate and miserable.  A dark stain on the gaiety of life.  Two broken pilings of rock in a glinting sea of youthful energy.”
There is much more where that came from in this fabulous collection.

This is a book that will give you a fly on the wall look at ordinary lives and the common scars and ties that bind us.  It will reveal to you the hidden side of life, the side most people will never reveal, and of which we are usually

Highly recommended

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