Shortly after I reviewed her novel “Homefront” “Kristen Tsetsi” asked me to review her collection of short stories. “Sure” I said…”No Problem, but be aware I review compilations 1 story at a time” Well, first of all…damn me and my big fat mouth and second…yeah, there is no way in hell I can do that with this book. (sorry Kristen)
“Carol’s Aquarium” is not your everyday collection of shorts; they are not a couple of pages long, they are (more often than not) a couple of paragraphs long, and where a “conventional” short has plot line basics (beginning, middle, end) you are lucky if you get any of these in “Tsetsi’s” work.
This is not to say that they aren’t worth your time. Let me explain…what “Tsetsi” wrote were “dream shorts” – imaginative snippets that are structured and written to fuel free thinking minds. Still don’t get it? Ok…bare with me. If you have every attended a creative writing class, whether it be in college or otherwise, your professor/teacher will at one point or another hand you a concept piece and ask you to expand upon it. That is exactly what “Tsetsi’s” stories are… thoughts. They will generally start somewhere in the middle, more often than not they will be an insignificant part of a larger story, and they will abruptly stop.
This is where you the reader come in. YOU are supposed to figure out the rest, (what happens to the neurotic girlfriend or postpartum inflicted mother?) YOU are supposed to take the set up that was provided for you and let your creative juices run wild, (why did she bail on her wedding?) YOU are supposed to write the beginning, the middle, and the end. (What happens when he finally leaves his wife?)
Let me give you a few disclaimers though, (if you do in fact decide this is something you would like to read.) 1. Do not read this book in one sitting. Yes, it is only 90 pages and yes, it can easily be done (because I did it) but to truly “get” what the experience is about read only 1 short a day, stew on it and then move onto the next one the following day. 2. Read them more than once. Like I said before they are very short so doing this isn’t going to steal away more than a few minutes of your time. And lastly, do not over analyze, there are not subliminal messages in the book, you are not missing the ending…I assure you it is not there.
Overall the writing was good. Yes, it was a little flowery in places (especially when it came to talking about buttercups) but with beautiful prose, comes beautiful dreams.
If you think you can handle not having the story laid out for you… snatch it up, (it’s worth the 2 bucks) but if you aren’t willing to compromise your need for typical literary structure, this is NOT a book for you. Consider YOUR character closely before making the decision, because I don’t want to have to say “I told you so.”
Happy reading my fellow Artists and remember: beauty surrounds you daily… you just have to know where to find it.
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