Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: The Old Forest and Other Stories by Peter Taylor

Before I discuss this book, I feel it only fair to disclose my general inability to connect with short stories except on very rare occasions and with very few authors. This inability is all mine and shouldn't reflect on the authors, but of course, it does to the extent that I write reviews about their stories. Ah well. The joys of being a published writer at the mercy of folks like me, I guess. That said, on to the review.

I didn't much like it. Now that comes as a surprise, doesn't it? The stories were well-written, elegant even. They are set in a south (20's and 30's) that was rapidly disappearing even as the characters lived their lives of quiet, privileged seclusion of sorts. This is a time and place I generally don't mind visiting in my reading but there was something about these stories that just didn't resonate for me. I almost felt as if each small story was happening at a remove from me as the reader, that there was no emotional pull, tugging me into each story whether I wanted to be tugged or no. The stories themselves were not superficial in any way although they were muted and restrained, proper even. And perhaps I'm too messy and uninhibited to appreciate that or perhaps my usual disdain for short stories colored my perception of this before I ever opened the cover. For whatever reason, I was pleased to turn the last page and be able to get on with other reading.

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