Reading a book written by a friend is a nerve-racking proposition. I was afraid to start THE AVERSIVE CLAUSE, a short story collection by B.C. Edwards, because I've known the author since high school. (As a result, I know all manner of embarrassing things about him, and vice versa. None of those will be revealed here.) I didn't want to find myself in the position of disliking the work of a person I'm fond of.
I had no reason to worry. From the first page of the first story, "Tumblers," I was taken in by the writing. Get a load of these sentences: "He wasn't always a driver, the man dressed as our driver said. Just this afternoon he was dressed as a man discovering his wife sleeping with another man on a fainting couch." How great is that?
So now I face the other problem with reading a book by someone I know: I have to convincingly explain that these are truly fabulous stories, independent of my friendship with the author. Fortunately, I can point out that other people think so, too.
Some of the stories in this collection are of this world, and others are set in worlds where things are a little different. In "Goldfish," a nineteen-year-old boy is drunk at a party and thinking about the girl who's always been good to him, and then the story circles around in a horribly clever way. "Aggie With The Hat On" features a slacker who discovers there's a more together version of himself living in the same town. In "Sweetness," a zombie-type illness begins with a constant sweet taste at the back of the throat.
Several of the stories have settings that are apocalyptic or on their way there, but one is the simple reality of a guy attending a family reunion with his boyfriend for the first time. In other words, there are lot of things happening in this collection, and if you don't like one of the stories, the next one will be completely different. I hope you'll give it a try.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ At The Millions, Nichole Bernier reports on The Point of the Paperback: "A look at a paperback's redesign tells you a thing or two about the publisher's mindset: namely, whether or not the house believes the book has reached its intended audience, and whether there's another audience yet to reach. Beyond that, it's anyone’s Rorschach. Hardcovers with muted illustrations morph into pop art, and vice versa. Geometric-patterned book covers are redesigned with nature imagery; nature imagery in hardcover becomes photography of women and children in the paperback."