3 out of 4 stars
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Published: March 2016 by BookBaby
genre: realistic fiction; short stories
I have a soft spot for short stories that tie together, and The Demystification of Stephen does a great job at that. This collection starts out about Stephen, a mysterious rich man who wins Christy over in a heartbeat. From there, a number of seemingly unrelated stories unfold. An officer has to deal with his brother's dark past. A boy decides his life goal is to be just like Sammy Davis Junior. A woman married to a not so perfect husband decides that he's perfect for her. A reporter tries to dig up a scoop on a newly appointed political woman. A model tries to make it big in UK.
I have to admit I was a little wary at first. The first page was confusing until later in the story. There was a lot of vernacular (I believe it's Nigerian) throughout that can be hard to read. The first short story in particular had large examples of the author telling characteristics and emotions instead of showing, and the “telling” didn't always match the character's speech and actions. It turns out I needn't have worried. By the end of the first story, this compilation only kept getting better.
The stories themselves were rich and interesting in their own right. Each one can stand alone on its own and had an interesting turn of events. It was only made better when most of them all connected back to Stephen by the 7th story. It was exciting to make all of the connections from the previous “stand alone” stories.
My emotional opinion of Stephen was a journey throughout. In the beginning, his character confused me. Then it shocked and impressed me. Later I hated him, but by the end I was right back to where I'd started, slightly confused about how I felt. He became a gray area character with a lot going on. The author did a great job of setting up a journey toward fulling knowing and understanding Stephen as a character.
The layout and order of the short stories worked as is, but I think it would have been better if it were organized a little differently. Stephen's story starts the book and ends with the mini stories in number 7. Most of the stories in between relate back to Stephen, but there were a couple that I could find no connection for even after a reread. There were already a couple of separate short stories included at the end of Stephen's story, and I think the build and emphasis of Stephen's story would have been even more effective if all of his stories were together. The presentation would have been even stronger if all of the stories not related to Stephen were included at the end instead of intermixed. As it is currently written, I felt like there was something I must be missing in the stories I couldn't draw a connection with.
Overall, I would rate this story a 3 out of 4. It is definitely worth a read through and I would highly recommend it for its complexity of story within such a short volume. Every story present was enjoyable to read, even if the collection as a whole doesn't have a lot of reread value. Even with it's few minor flaws, it is a worthy one time read.
The Demystification Of Stephen
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