“Ned Wakes Up” Short Stories by John Wells

This is a book that gives gentle pleasure, like sitting on a porch on a warm spring evening, listening to a favourite uncle ramble on. The tone of each tale is much the same: intimate,  placid and entertaining.

These stories are distinguished by incredible attention to detail. The settings are described lovingly, and the minutest element of every action taken by the characters is logged faithfully.

Another element that is important is the endings. All are twists of some sort,  Some of the stories are happily-ever-after, and some of them are complete downers, but each one gives us a surprise.  The finales are so quirky that when you get to one where the ending is as to be completely plain, you consider it to be the quirkiest of all.

Individually, these stories vary greatly in theme and intensity of plotline, but taken as a whole, they balance out, with a nice contrast between each one and the one that follows.

I was not particularly enamoured with the title piece. I never felt that the story itself ever really woke up. “Mist and Sunshine,” however, is a sweet tale that takes both the main character and the reader on a journey with a meaningful ending.

The final story, “With the Fishes,” is a real fish story. The characters are fish on their way upstream to spawn, but they take a detour into a bar where the action gets a little too rough for them. You get the idea.

Many of the stories don’t really seem to go anywhere, but it’s the ride that counts. A pleasant and gentle read, with touches of whimsy to add garnish.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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