4 out of 4 stars
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Watchwords (black and white) by Philip Neal Gatter is a collection of sixteen short stories. Some of the narratives are based on the author's experiences. Other stories originate from his imagination or dreams. Each story is inspired by a watch, and the timepiece is linked to the storyline. The author reflects on a variety of concepts like homosexuality, transgender, alcohol and drug abuse, loneliness and dementia. Some stories recount war experiences and show the effects of war on the protagonists.
The first story describes a day at the seaside and looks at autism and depression. The landscape and its birds come alive on the pages. I could easily imagine being myself at the British coast. The next two stories relate to the author's work as a psychotherapist and counsellor. This is followed in due course by stories about the First World War and about watchmaking. There are more stories taking place during the author's holidays or during his work in Great Britain and abroad. Two more narratives respectively touch on English boarding school life and on student life.
The positive aspects of Watchwords are the manifold themes and settings covered. The characters in the different stories are well developed. I easily managed to put myself in their shoes while reading. The author is educated and well-spoken. He treats topics like homosexuality, abuse, disease and bereavement with understanding and respect. I also like the contents table and the prologue at the beginning of the book. The prologue gives a glimpse of the author's life and of the anthology's origin. Each short story stands on its own feet. They are connected by the writer's experiences and the photographs of wristwatches above them. Apart from enjoying the stories, I have learnt something about the history of watches. Besides the book is edited professionally. There are hardly any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
I was slightly taken aback by the amount of swear words and explicit sex scenes in some short stories. But other than that, I cannot find any negative aspects about this publication. The stories are informative, interesting and a delight to read.
After careful consideration I rate Watchwords by Philip Neal Gatter 4 out of 4 stars . Although I personally do not like profane language and too explicit sex scenes, they are an integral part of some of these narratives. For all the aforementioned reasons, I am happy to give the highest rating to this book.
I recommend these short stories to mature adults only. Readers interested in concepts like homosexuality, alcohol and drug abuse and in war stories will enjoy reading them. Professionals involved in psychiatry, psychotherapy and counselling might also benefit from the book.
Watchwords (black and white)
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