Official Review: A Bundle of Colorful Yarns

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Latest Review: A Bundle of Colorful Yarns by Louis Winslow

Official Review: A Bundle of Colorful Yarns

Post by bluegreenmarina » 01 Jul 2018, 17:45

[Following is an official review of "A Bundle of Colorful Yarns" by Louis Winslow.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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A Bundle of Colorful Yarns by Louis Winslow is an eclectic collection of short stories loosely bound by, as the name implies, a few somewhat-related motifs. Though the stories vary in topic, many of them focus on outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and hunting. Several take place in Mexico and seem to all center on one particular region of the country, though each story has a unique set of characters with unique experiences.

Though a majority of the stories are simple and down-to-earth, or at most mildly ironic, a handful of them cross over into the paranormal. There are a few stories featuring ghosts, one featuring Bigfoot, one with a magical (or possessed?) painting, and a few that explore the paranormal aspect of hypnosis, mind-altering chemicals, and dream imagery. Some of the stories feature violence as well as descriptions of sexual acts so this book may not be the best choice for minors, though compared to some other books, these stories are still fairly tame.

I found the topics of the short stories to be quaint and amusing, and each one was short and easy to digest. Unfortunately, the brevity also lent itself to a scantiness of character and scene development, so some of the stories were missing an element of authenticity that would have been easier to relay with the addition of descriptors and character back-story. There were also quite a few spelling errors throughout. The stories themselves, though not boring, sometimes ended on an anticlimactic note (I found this to be true mostly in the first half of the collection). Sometimes the endings were a bit absurd, or left me scratching my head and wondering what the exact point was.

Finally, one of the unique things about this particular collection is that almost every story seems to be told in the same narrative voice. Though only a handful of them were specifically autobiographical (for example, several stories spaced throughout the collection mentioned the author’s son having died a few years ago), almost every story, including the fiction ones, focus on the experiences of a man - usually middle-aged or older. The dialogue was structured in a very similar style despite the characters in the stories being different, and the pacing and descriptions were written consistently as well. Though this did lend itself to more cohesion than a typical story collection, it seemed as if the book would have benefited by combining the numerous short stories into a smaller number of longer stories, with better character development and depth.

I struggled with rating this book 2 or 3 stars out of 4, but settled finally on 3 out of 4 stars. Despite the negatives mentioned above, by the end of the collection I felt as if I had gotten to know and admire the author. This is not always possible with a short story collection, as sometimes the topics can be so widely varied that it is difficult to discern the author’s true stance on anything. However, in this collection it was clear that the same person wrote every word, and the same experiences shaped every plotpoint. I recommend this book to readers who prefer short, sometimes-absurd, amusing reads, especially on topics pertaining to wilderness and outdoor activities.

A Bundle of Colorful Yarns
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Post by Cecilia_L » 04 Jul 2018, 17:27

I agree that with a short story collection it can be a challenge to develop depth of characters and plot. I like your suggestion of combining some of the stories to create a smaller collection. I think I would enjoy a collection with the narrative consistency you described. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by meadhbh » 04 Jul 2018, 18:46

Sounds like a very interesting short story collection. Personally, I'm not sure whether the use of the same narrative voice and similar central characters is something I would like. I usually prefer a variety of character types in collections like this. However, I like how you say it allows you to get to know the author better, and I'm a big fan of supernatural short stories, so I might just give this a read.

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Post by kandscreeley » 05 Jul 2018, 08:18

Short story collections are difficult. How do you get enough information while still keeping the story short? It sounds like the author did fairly well with this. I just don't think, though, that the topics would be enough to interest me. I'm going to pass on this one for now, but I do appreciate the depth of information here. Thanks.
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Post by OrlaCarty » 06 Jul 2018, 04:37

It's disappointing that the narrative voice didn't seem to change! A varied set of characters always makes a short story collection for me. It still sounds like it has great merits though. Thanks for the review.

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Post by Kendra M Parker » 06 Jul 2018, 15:43

This certainly sounds like a book that has been named well. The absurd nature of the stories is definitely a plus. It could be a fun read sometime.

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Post by Faithmwangi » 08 Jul 2018, 14:34

This is a nice review. However, I am still not drawn to short stories and I won't be pursuing this particular read.

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