I just got my first review from an established reading website – Book Pleasures – so I thought I’d post it up here as a bit of self promotion. I’ve just finished doing an interview for them as well, my first ever interview, so that should be up on the site shortly too.
I was a bit nervous about this one, it being the first time I’ve actually sent my book somewhere for an honest opinion, so I’m really pleased it turned out well. I’ve seen a real upturn in sales over the last two days, and I think this may be partly because of that stupid promo thread I posted and partly because of the exposure on Book Pleasures (it’s a great site by the way, I’ve seen a few things reviewed on there that I want to check out now too):
“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.
The 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 oblivious.
What I’m most pleased about, with all the reviews I’ve gotten, is that they pick up on things I intended to feature in the stories. It’s nice to know I must have gotten it right in some instances at least for the ideas to have been successfully transmitted. “Ordinary lives and common scars” mentioned here is exactly what I was aiming for. Another mentions “understatement” which is absolutely the approach I was attempting, and yet another says the style I write in stops the bleakness of the subject matter from descending into total despair, which is what I really really hoped it would do.
Not much of a ponderous post today I’m afraid, just a lazy and opportunist one…