One of my good writer friends here on Blogger, Subha Majumder (aka Just Me), has recently released a bound collection of short stories entitled Strange Connections. What follows is my personal review of the work:
Chance meetings on street corners, inside coffee houses, and deep within mythical forests set stories in motion and propel people and spirits alike to places and experiences which they would otherwise never embark. The short tales within "Strange Connections" are each self-contained works but all seem to follow the common thread of strangers finding sudden comfort (or conflict) with one another on days that would otherwise remain painfully ordinary.
Twenty-seven stories compose this slim anthology, some very short, some longer, but none lasting for more than a few turns of the page. Still, in each, the author manages to create full and convincing characters, each usually locked in an everyday struggle (infidelity, temptation, uncertainty, listlessness, poverty, loneliness, loss, depression) that each of us have felt at least once in our lives. The heroines and heroes soon discover that happiness, or at least contentment, can almost always be achieved with a shift in perspective - connections with strangers serving as the catalysts for these brave new outlooks. In a way, the stories all serve as a reminder that the difficulties we face in everyday life can almost always be improved, if not remedied, by a change in attitude.
The style of the writing is simple and clean, a refreshing break from the pretentious or overwrought diction found in many English-language works these days. The author wastes no time on lengthy descriptions or back-stories, instead focusing on the immediate and visceral to paint a quick and vivid picture for the reader with each new story, quickly plunging into the conflict at hand. Plots are handled elegantly, moving through their arcs without the weighty baggage of contrived twists and overdone interpersonal dramas.
While certainly not every story in this collection has an uplifting message attached within, even those that end on darker notes still carry with them a statement to be made. This is not fiction written purely for the sake of fiction, but stories meant to stir up introspective thought and emotion and that I think is what attracts me most about this book. Taken as a whole or as separated parts, Strange Connections is well worth the first read, the second, and many more after.
Strange Connections is available from Amazon.com in a print paperback edition.