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I think Michelle Miller writes great short stories. I have been reading one of her collections, The Fairer Sex, which I haven’t quite finished. I have two left in that eight-part series, but I am going to take a detour with this collection of several short stories by Miller. The cover that appears on Kindle for Boys, Booze and Bathroom Floors catches the eye and is supported by a catchy subtitle, Forty-Six Tales about the Collusion of Suicide Grief and Dating. The 149-page novel sells for USD 7.99 but is available on Kindle Unlimited for free.
What type of mind can come up with so many pieces of fiction? According to Miller, every tale is based on true events with only the names changed to prevent lawsuits. Otherwise, as she writes, “It needs to be said that if lawsuits did not exist, I would expose them all.” (p. 2). I am sure there was no double meaning but there is a lot of exposure throughout the novel. This may not be the book you give as a present to your young readers. I think this qualifies as a trigger warning.
In An Introduction So Short, You Won’t Be Tempted to Skip It, readers will find an interesting background to the why and when of these stories. With a title like that, I can’t believe readers will skip it. The table of contents is also interesting but many of the anecdote titles have more meaning after reading the stories. Forget the main title and look at the three keywords in the subtitle. This is about the collusion of suicide, grief, dating, depression, anger, and bouts of acceptance. There are all kinds of humor. One present in this novel is of the form, “Can you believe this really happened?” That form of humor is only funny if the reader/listener has empathy for the writer/speaker. This can be a very difficult novel to get through for an empathetic reader.
I wouldn’t attempt to make comments on each tale. There are poignant comments or observations in each of them. I want to highlight three quotes that I believed great and three tales that I think can stand alone. With the exception that they are numbered, I felt each of them could be read without reference to what came before.
THE STANDALONE CHAPTERS
Date Eleven: Seven minutes***** This refers to the seven minutes it took for her husband to die after he shot himself. For most of this selection, Michelle contemplates what his last thought might have been … about everything.
Date Twenty-Two: I Want to Disrespect Him ***** Michelle talks about why she wants to disrespect men who don’t listen, don’t pay attention, or want to use her only for temporary physical relief. It is a well-done rant.
Date Thirty-Eight: They Too Are All Naked ***** This is a very scary chapter and is a type of out of body experience. The descriptive writing is beautiful.
One final chapter that could stand alone; Question: Aren’t You Worried Your Children Will Read This Book One Day? This would be an interesting poll question for readers. How many readers would agree with Michelle?
QUOTES I LIKED
I could fill pages with the well-phrased pieces of advice and insights Michelle provided. I just want to list three because they struck me as immediately right. No interpretation or further pondering required.
“No one other than Number Four will ever hold my hand.” (p. 12). This was a very good quote when I read it, but it is not a stand-alone quote. When read in Date Four: A Choice My Husband Did Not Make, it is powerful.
“I can live a good life without ever experiencing romantic love again because I am enough.” (p.14). This is from the same anecdote as above and it is only a partial quote. The first part of the quote is dark, this second part offers hope.
“You can accept that our inability as the human race to overcome our selfishness is what binds together all humans that have ever or will ever exist. Or you can refuse this acceptance and get angry.” (p. 50).
The last quote is my favorite from the entire collection. Possibly the saddest line of the collection is the last line, just before the acknowledgments, on page 130. Whether that is true or not would be another great reader poll. I give this collection the same rating I give Michelle Miller’s short stories, five Amazon stars. It is an excellent value for KU subscribers.