3 out of 4 stars
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A newlywed couple goes camping on their honeymoon, but the sound of a snorting bear nearby intrudes on their wedded bliss. A few boys get more “fun” than they bargained for during a downhill trip on a makeshift bobsled. A single woman dons an outfit meant to garner male attention on a Sunday morning, but she did not plan on ending up at a Mennonite church service. These incidents and more are in a collection of comical short stories: Bears, Bobsleds and Other Misadventures by author Gary Dyck.
In this book’s preface, the author states that these stories are fictional. Even so, it later becomes clear that the main character’s name is Gary. He relates each of these tales in first person, from childhood mishaps with his young neighbors to awkward situations he faces as a married man. Though some aspects of Gary’s narrative may seem unbelievable, readers may possibly hear a ring of truth chiming through many of the pages.
When a story hinges on humor, a writer might hurry from joke to joke while his writing in between lacks in quality. However, in this book, the author does not rush to the punch lines. He takes his time when he needs to, effectively setting up the course of each event to give readers a reason to care about what happens next. The humor is sometimes subtle and other times blatant but unforced. Gary’s attitude as a narrator can be offhand, and he is even oblivious to the comedy on occasion, which works in the comedy’s favor. Although some of the humor is a little irreverent, it maintains a level of tact. The author knows when to leave something unsaid, and his clever style displays his trust in the reader’s intelligence.
Now, a first person point of view lets a reader experience a story closely with the main character. Still, the point of view comes with a trade-off. A first person narrator generally does not have the luxury of getting into other characters’ heads or knowing about events that are taking place elsewhere, beyond his vantage point.
In light of this, Gary’s narration does not always make complete sense. He suddenly becomes like an omniscient narrator now and then. He describes some moments from other characters’ perspectives or gives details about actions or events beyond his hearing or vantage point. While doing so, he does not explain how he knows that information, nor does he comment on the oddity of his brief omniscience, if it is intentionally illogical. Also, there are minor errors throughout the book, including punctuation errors, incorrect verb tenses, and movie titles that should be italicized.
Nevertheless, overall, this is a well-written collection that takes a light and entertaining look at life. Therefore, I give Bears, Bobsleds and Other Misadventures a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to short story fans who enjoy generous helpings of humor.
Bears, Bobsleds and Other Misadventures
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