3 out of 4 stars
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When you think of a collection of short stories, you think of stories that grab your attention from the get-go, keep you hooked for a few pages, and then end in an interesting way. Glitteration in the Night and Other Stories does not quite fit that mould. The only thing familiar about this compilation of stories is that they are short. Other than that, this assortment of tales steps out of the box in a very curious way.
This is by no means a happy novel, and it delves into every possible morose theme imaginable. There are stories about drug abuse, depression, adultery, and domestic violence - just to name a few. The author introduces every type of character, and somewhere in the book, the reader is bound to identify with at least one of them. The stories take life as we know it and bend it into a depraved world where it seems like nothing will ever be right.
If I have scared you away from reading this book, that is not my intention. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. Because this book takes seemingly normal people and gives the reader a glimpse of their struggles, it made me feel very fortunate. I’m not sure that that was the intended outcome, but I didn’t feel sad about the stories. As a human being, it is virtually impossible to ignore the horrors that occur around us, sometimes even to us. Cheating spouses, friends and family going to war, depression, and, of course, racism are some of the things that affect people daily. We can try to ignore these worries, but it doesn’t make them disappear. Glitteration in the Night and Other Stories merely brings these topics to the forefront and tackles them head-on.
The one disconcerting element to the stories was their endings, or lack thereof. As mentioned, these are not conventional short stories; they didn’t have the standard beginning, middle, and end. They were more like snippets of people’s lives. The pieces of life had beginnings and endings elsewhere – the reader was just not included in them. This didn’t allow for traditional happy endings, nor did it allow for any form of closure. I have to say, I wasn’t too thrilled with the stories ending so suddenly and without any clue as to where they might have been headed. This definitely added to the gloomy nature of the book, but I wasn’t a huge fan.
The author, John David Wells, is a gifted storyteller. It’s hard to jump into a story without any prior understanding of the people or the situation. He does it with ease. He builds his characters with speed and finesse, and they become instantly relatable. One of my favourite lines from the book is:
It shows a deep understanding of his subject matter, and I feel like it’s a line that most people can relate to.“Mental illness is quite different from any other kind of illness. If you break your leg, get pneumonia, or get hit by a car, people will be genuinely sympathetic. They will visit you in the hospital, send you cards and lots of get-well wishes. But don’t hurt part of your mind; they can’t deal with it.”
The editing was good. It wasn’t perfect – there were a few noticeable errors, but they were superficial errors. The mistake I came across most often was the unintentional omission of words; for example, “You remind of that old commercial” with the “me” missing. Because there were more than ten errors, and because of my dislike of the story structures, I have deducted a star from the total rating. 3 out of 4 stars is a fair evaluation, and I would have probably given it a perfect score had the editing been better. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a frank take on the lives of people going through various struggles. There are no butterflies and rainbows in the narrative, so for people looking for something cheery, this is not the one. It’s an eye-opener, for sure, and I found myself wanting to read on, even with the gloom of life making the stories darker as the book continued.
Glitteration in the Night and Other Stories
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