4 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever seen a fascinating stranger at a restaurant and created an entire life story for them inside your head? Have you ever been desperate to explain yourself to a fellow grocery store shopper, only to have them misunderstand your intentions? The Memoir Man by Frances Webb dives deep into the psyche of the human observer. This is a collection of short stories written in the first person. They are character-focused and describe the whirling, swirling thought pattern of someone who is attempting to picture the mindset of another. The stories are written in a way that makes it very easy to place yourself in the role of the narrator and observer.
I would recommend this book for people who love short stories and people who enjoy character-driven stories. I always appreciate a short story collection and found quite a few gems in this one. There are stories and poems in this collection. The variation in length helps to keep the pacing and flow of the book fresh.
The first two stories in this collection were my favorite part of this book. This is not to say that the rest were not fantastic, just that the first two stuck with me long after the final sentences. The title story, The Memoir Man, is an intriguing description of a man that is working on a writing project in a library. A fellow patron notices his schedule and activities and begins to wonder. What is the man working on? What progress is he making? How does he interact with the other library patrons? As this internal dialogue unfolds, you gain insight into the mind and habits of the narrator themselves.
Another standout story in this collection was In a Public Place. The narrator in this story tells a tale of audacity and their own outrage. They wait at a coat check and try desperately to get the attention of the museum visitors around them. They wonder how the other patrons can possibly miss what is right in front of their eyes! I enjoyed this narrator’s voice, which seemed distraught and even a bit unstable as the story unfolds.
My least favorite parts of this book were a few of the poems. One or two of them were interesting or witty, but some of them read like unfinished ideas. I would have liked to see them more fleshed out and maybe turned into short stories themselves.
This book was exceptionally well-edited and I found very few typos. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would not rate it 3 stars because of the excellent editing, the consistent tone of the stories, and the thought put into each selection. In every short story collection, there are going to be stories that you like and stories that you absolutely love. I enjoyed an element in every story included in this collection and found a few that I adored. I think this book would make a great addition to any short story lover’s collection.
The Memoir Man
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