Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

*1This is a collection of short stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates. The authors of the stories are all prisoners in the United States prison system.

If you’re a fan of short stories, this is well worth your time. If you’re not a huge fan of that genre but are interested in the correctional systems, again this is well worth your time.

Some of these stories are *really* good! They are so good that it is easy to forget that they were all written by inmates. Having said that, what the hell does that even mean? Like it is unheard of that an inmate can actually write….psssffffttttt…..

It really made me stop and think about society’s narrow-minded view…..about my own narrow mindedness….I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting when I started this book. What I expected the stories to be like….however, it wasn’t what I was expecting….

I can only be reminded of a line from Charlie Chaplin’s great dictator speech “You are not cattle. You are men.”

Yep…pretty much sums it up for me. Regardless of how they got there…or why they are there….Prisoners are not just numbers. They are not just some faceless shadow on a wall that we dare not look at….

These stories demand that we take a look at them….they demand that we look eye to eye….sure, you might not like what you see….if might not change your feelings one way or the other….but damnit…you will at least see them…..

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

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Review: Happenstance 2, by Jamie Mcguire

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“There’s only one you.”

If you haven’t read the first Happenstance, you must go and do that now. I can wait….

Done? Good.

Erin is trying to still work through all of the information she has received, while living with her real parents. Having caring and attentive parents is something she has never had, so it’s hard for her to adjust. She just wants love, not things. But she is slowly growing closer to her real parents, while still battling the bullies at school, who don’t seem to care who she really is.

Weston is still her constant, throughout all of this. He will take one anyone who chooses to cause her trouble. But soon she makes a discovery that may change the way she looks at him and the way she looks at herself. As if her life hasn’t been flipped upside down already.

“She doesn’t need us to fix this for her. We’ll just love her through it.”

This was a nice little story. I can’t to see how she handles this information she has been given, in the next book. Thank God she has loyal parents, who would give her the moon if they could, and her boyfriend, who would wrestle dragons.

~Melpomene

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Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

maladiesFirst I need to tell you guys something….are you ready for my confession? Okay, here goes….I am not a fan of short stories. After Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature this past week, I figured it was time that I downloaded one of her books to try it. See, I am not so set in my ways that I can’t try something I know I probably won’t like….so that brings me to this book….I had some stuff going on this past weekend, so in a haste to pick out a book, I picked out a short book that I’ve had on my kindle for a while….I had been wanting to try Lahiri for a while as well….Since she is up for the Man Booker Prize, I thought this would be a good time to try her…..

How does all this fit in together? Well, I am the type that rarely reads book descriptions….Soooooo….imagine my surprise of finding out that this book was a collection of short stories! What!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate short stories! Sure, I was willing to try Munro…but NOT now….I was gonna put it off for months….I….don’t…..like….shorts!!!!!!

Seriously, I couldn’t be bothered to try to pick out another book from the hundreds I have on my kindle…it was after 10 pm. I was tried, darn it…..So, I went ahead and started to read….imagine my surprise…..I was hooked from page one….not just from the first story…but from every single one! I have to say, I take back every bad thing I have ever mumbled about short stories….these were brilliant.

I am telling you now….don’t be an arse like me….Don’t tell yourself that you never read “____?____”. Ask yourself….what do you read? Do you usually read thriller books? Romance? Mysteries? Non-fiction? Okay….for the sake of argument, let’s say you read only romance.

So, tell me….the last romance you read….was it brilliant? Did it suck? Was it just okay? Boring? Exciting? Okay, the one before that? And yes, before that?

Do you see my point? Oh, come on now…don’t make me write it out! Okay….you win….here goes….

Not every book you read it guaranteed to be brilliant. Not even if it’s from a genre you absolutely love. Same goes for your favorite author. One day, they might disappoint you….You might have loved every book they have ever penned, but maybe one day you won’t.

This book has taught me a great lesson….I will try very hard to stop judging books by their genre. I mean, I don’t like non fiction, but there are a couple of non fiction books that are some of the best books I’ve ever read. I don’t like fantasy, but a few of my all time favorites are just that! The same with romance….Do you see my point here?

So I can tell you right now…with great confidence….a great story is a great story! No matter the genre it is told in. In these short 200 pages, Jhumpa Lahiri gives us 9 great stories. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. Do the few short pages they take up encompass a massive story? Do they have a beginning, a middle and an ending? Maybe not….but what they do have is some uncanny ability to draw you into the characters lives and make you feel for them. You feel their loneliness. You feel their pain. You feel their emotions. You relate to them. You spend a short moment of time with them and you feel as if their lives matter to you. You care about them. Finally, long after their pages end, you still think of them and you wonder how they are…so I am telling you right now…if you say a short story can’t encompass a massive story…well it’s like saying one short life doesn’t matter when you look at someone who has led a long life. That’s just bullshit. These stories matter. Short or not, they really matter…

I simply can not wait to try another one of Lahiri’s books. I won’t even mind if it’s *only* a collection of short stories….and seriously….I no longer hate short stories anyway….so who cares if they are a collection of shorts…hell, I almost hope they are!

Until next time….

– Urania xx

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