Ah, MR. TALL. It started out nice enough: stories that were personal, sometimes tragic, and at times strange. I’m reminded of other short story collections I’ve read this year such as ACTS OF GOD, but probably more like BLACK VODKA. Regular life, but with an added twist. Mostly.
Tony Earley has an author’s talent for capturing life’s finer details (probably the reason I love short stories so much). As other reviewers have noted, Earley seems especially adept at bringing out the joys, tribulations, loves, and trials of the married life. He also seems skilled at taking societal reactions to legends, myths, and rumors and then playing them out into interesting and plausible reactions.
Then Earley brings out the grand finale: Jack the giant slayer.
I really loved Jack’s story—my favorite short story of the year, so far. WARNING: it may not be for everyone. For odd and quirky folks like me, you’ll probably love it. Jack’s story makes reading this whole book all the more worthwhile.
Things start okay with Jack. He may be suffering some post-giant-slaying boredom and wants to have paid sex with the farmer’s wife. He appears to be a drunk, too. I won’t ruin all the surprises for you, but just know that things turn really bizarre. At first, I thought this was something from the pages of a Neil Gaiman novel. Then Jack started to break through the fourth wall, talking to me about narrative technique. Then a dog—not a troll—came up from under the bridge. Then wheat turned to blossomed damsels. Yeah, it was an awesome trip.
Here’s what really nailed it, though: the grand summary at the end. The tale ended up being a testament to why we read, the importance of imagination, and the value of continued story. What more delights a reader’s heart than the validation of reading and imagination?
Thanks Little, Brown for providing this book electronically for me to review. I loved it.
You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: Mr. Tall: A Novella and Stories
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