This collection of short stories is held together by a common attitude towards life, shared by the author and all the characters. It could best be described as, “You’re only a loser if it bothers you.” A change from the constant barrage of short stories written about losers because their troubles make us feel good about ourselves. These guys feel pretty good about themselves, too.
None of the characters in the “Short Stories” section of the book are particularly successful by most standards. However, their own standards are not the same as yours and mine. So, in a refreshing twist on an old theme, when the losers aren’t winning, they aren’t really losing either, and in many cases, they are winning in an endearing sort of way.
A good example of this is the dumb duo in “Thickest Thieves,” an ageing couple who can’t seem to do anything right, but in the end…well, I won’t spoil it for you.
Like real life, some of the endings are predictable, some are hazy, and some are difficult to puzzle out: “Junk Sale,” for example. Sometimes both the characters and the readers end up scratching their heads and asking, “What just happened here?” But every tale has a sense of ironic humour that makes you want to read the next story to see what this guy is going to come up with next.
The second-half stories are called “Essays,” which they aren’t, but they are narratives in the first person, which I assume means they are more or less non-fiction. As one might expect, they chronicle the experiences of the author, with the purpose of demonstrating his philosophy of life (See Paragraph One).
However, as one might expect, the real-life experiences of anyone pale beside those created in the imagination, so I enjoyed the first half of the book more.
A refreshing take on an old short story theme. Recommended for a light summer read.(4 / 5)