Nightmares of a Novelist by Robert Burton Robinson contains “four disturbing tales.” In a segment prior to the first story, Robinson asserts these “stories are disturbing tales of things that actually happened to me. Or perhaps I dreamed them.” I found this introductory note appealing and looked forward to examining Robinson’s experiences whether they occurred in a dream state or in what we perceive to be reality.
The Magic Coin The first clue was that the car navigation system refused to validate the existence of the address. Mr.Robinson, a writer not financially flush, pursued this opportunity to pay his bills. He would interview Cody and write the story of Cody’s wife, a witch. This is a story of rednecks, witches, money, and believability. The police seemed to accept Robinson’s story. Will readers?
The Affair Once again someone called on Robinson to write a book. This time a wife contracted with Robinson to write a book about her inventor husband and his wonderful inventions. And, by the way, would Robinson also play private detective and find out if her husband was having an affair? Robinson was reluctant to do this but was drawn into a role that he probably considered above his pay grade. And yeah, there was an affair. Sort of. But very soon Robinson would doubt who his client was. Robinson was having doubts about who he himself might be.
Only In His Dreams In this story, the reader will have to figure out what is a dream and what isn’t. Also, who is having the dreams; Robinson, Gregory Jones, or Hubert Himply? And can a dreamer cross boundaries to affect conditions in the waking world? In spare time, readers can reflect on the morality of revenge.
The Favor Robinson once again gets in trouble through the seemingly innocent act of redeeming a winning ticket for ten guitar strings. Unlike the three previous stories in this collection, this story doesn’t end. Charlotte is watching.
What has the reader learned about author Robinson from this collection? Many of us think struggling writers sit in a small dedicated writing space mentally reaching out to a muse and if the muse is otherwise occupied the writer will fill a blank screen or piece of paper with a blog post. Mission accomplished, and it is almost happy hour. With the first three stories above, Robinson depended on contacts (some ethereal) reaching out to him and offering jobs, some of which were not strictly writing gigs. Even the last story is about an assigned job. This could force the muse into the unemployment line. Or Robinson could become very afraid of Charlotte and just stay home in his small dedicated writing space.
No matter his fate, these short stories are a nice break for those who prefer bite-size reading to bite-size confections. I gave this four Amazon stars and suggest readers go to the author’s website for more interesting free short reads.