“Broken World Stories” by Lance Manion

This is a book of short pieces, mostly humorous. I won’t call them stories, although many of them are. What the others are is more difficult to pin down, so I’ll let you figure them out yourself.

The work stands out because of its creativity. Examples: An ethnically sourced method of saying good-bye to the family car. People having arguments inside their heads on a wide range of topics. The dilemma of an extra slice of bread in the loaf. An old folk’s home for superheros. Several COVID reactions. The dietary qualities of pecan pie. And more.

Not to say that it’s all in fun. Besides some of the works being smutty, foul-mouthed or gross as well as funny, there are actually serious recurring themes. They just aren’t always handled seriously. The main idea that is discussed often is one that should bother us all. Are we really in control of our own destiny? The alternatives are many and varied, pretty much describing the themes of these tales.

Some of the offerings range from mildly to completely unexplainable, and often you figure you must have missed something because the rest come across so clearly. Sometimes you even go back and read it again, just in case you find that elusive clue. “Slices of Bread” is one such example. Don’t bother. It isn’t there. WYSIWYG.

Manion writes in informal style, often breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the reader about the story. “The ending is grim in a way you might not expect.” Comments like this give the tone a chatty aspect. For most books, we like the writer to stay out of the way and let us enjoy the reading, but with these tales it’s part of the deal, like sitting and trading stories with a friend. One item goes so far as to discuss all the way through why it doesn’t have a moral at the end. I won’t tell you what it does have, though.

This author also has an annoying reluctance to reveal the answers to questions the plot brings up. That would just make it too easy for us. It’s very much like reading a book of modern poetry; we are kept interested trying to figure out what it all means. And, having reviewed my share of poetry, I’d say these works are more accessible than the average.

There are around seventy offerings in this book, so don’t try to read them all at once. Highly recommended for those with quirky senses of humour and reality.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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