My Bibliography

Friday, 12 July 2013

My review of Such is Life - Jeri Walker-Bickett.


I've long since admired Jeri Walker-Bickett for her dedication to writing, her professional approach to editing and her efforts at promoting the work of other Indie authors.  It is my pleasure, therefore, to be able to review her short story collection - light literary pieces that are easily read in one sitting.  These stories reflect on everyday events that might have a bigger impact on who we are as people, they are observational and insightful and Jeri's ability to paint the scenes with a fine-edged brush is a pleasure to read.

My Review:


Such is Life is an appropriate title; the stories concentrating on everyday matters that most might find insignificant in the first instance.  And therein lies the skill.

At first, when reading `Pretty Girl' and `Leaving Big Sky', I wondered if I was going to enjoy this collection as much as I was hoping to; becoming slightly weary of the descriptiveness of seemingly irrelevant body language, regardless of how well applied, and also because both of these stories, I thought, kind of left me hanging... wondering about the point of them... until I remembered the synopsis; this collection simply about being human - which then made me take a different view on the relevance of them and the deeper implication; the everyday actions and choices we make in life that might have some kind of bearing on who we are or what we become, but in terms of the underlying sentiment of these stories, the finer nuance of interaction between the characters, it became clear, was vital.

Moving on, I then thought that descriptiveness acted as a kind of precursor for the next three stories, building up to me having an appreciation of Walker-Bickett's style - which is crisp and linear.  And while also literary, one doesn't have to think too hard to engage with it; the writing, flowing well, is easily understood, this descriptiveness with more relevance to the bigger pictures - almost as if Walker-Bickett had been building momentum; merely teasing the reader at first.

And as the stories became slightly more intense, darker even, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the collection.  I appreciated in particular, the odd edgy scene thrown in here and there; a word or reference sticking out like a sore thumb almost juxtaposing the innocence of the writing style that I'd thus far seen, and that had me saying, `yeah... that's more like it'.

Being Scottish, I found the attitude of the Mormon community in `Not Terribly Important' quite fascinating (and, incidentally, an overall southern feel to this collection, which was quite insightful for me.)  Ironically though, given the loud and clear message in that story, that fiction is fiction, I couldn't help but feel, as I smiled throughout, that it seemed almost cathartic - such was the conviction of the sentiment.  All in all though, it kind of made me think, such is life indeed - a brainwashed, exacting, society, whose youth, especially, seem preoccupied, excited even, with all that they are taught to hate.  Humph.

I was really immersed in `For the Love of a Dog', and that situation touched me a great deal. I found the characterisation far more invested - and as it was in the last piece also,`River Walk' - in that both women in the first two stories felt too similar for me to separate in my own mind.  However, I felt the desperation of both respective main characters in the last two, in very different ways, and, in `For the Love of a Dog', the mentality of a pitchfork wielding society - which also had me reeling about the ridiculousness, largely, of humanity at large.

Overall I enjoyed these stories, they evoked emotional responses, and I read them in one sitting.

Finally, I will say that the excerpt from Walker-Bickett's upcoming novel, `Lost Girl Road' - a ghost story - held my attention (surprisingly, for me, because it is a ghost story) the style being used there - the third person omniscient point of view - my personal preference. Together with the immaculateness of her writing, I think a longer piece such as this, with the opportunity to develop characters fully, will be thoroughly enjoyable..

You can find out more about Jeri at her blog here.

4 comments:

  1. As is your usual, your honesty came through, but with so many positive and thoughtful remarks about the stories. And you sure piqued my interest on the next eBook she has coming out and which I'm sure that doesn't surprise you any that I'm interested in - supernatural themed stories. Yes.

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    1. Yes, the stories were really nice little pieces as I said, and they did keep me reading right through the end and beyond - which is more than I can say for the last literary anthology I read, which I just couldn't finish. I do recommend it, and am looking forward to seeing some longer works of Jeri's - in particular will be interested in how her characters will be created. I do hope there will be some of the darkness/edginess I saw inklings of in this collection of short stories. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I am a follower of Jeri's and I LOVED her short stories book. It pulls you in and holds your attention. I greatly look forward to her next offering too. :)

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    1. Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by. Yes the sample chapter of Lost Girl Road certainly pulled the reader in too. Should be good.

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