Curious Men by Rosalind Minett has a very logical subtitle He-Time Tales. Minett’s earlier work was not so gendered in the title, Me-Time Tales, but given that the earlier work was written by an author named Rosalind, some assumptions can be made. I gave the fifteen stories in Me-Time Tales five Amazon stars https://ron877.com/2019/03/07/what-is-a-well-woman-examination/ which guaranteed I would read anything else written by Ms. Minett. This collection has seventeen stories plus three interventions. I enjoy writing a quick couple of “reaction” sentences after each story. There are sections in addition to the stories. There is a tongue-in-cheek Health and Safety Warning. A Prologue admits to the author’s sense of fairness in giving men their platform and hints that men and women are different. Who would have thought it?
Mown Down ***** This great first line “My latest woman came with a huge bonus.” (Kindle location 64) does not prepare the reader for the humor to come. The unnamed principal character is one of the most obtuse protagonists I have encountered. With a love of vacuum cleaners and mowers as his focus, he is blind to the very human reactions of Helena and Marston. Great humor.
In Smoke ***** This is a story of a family that evolved in an unfortunate way. The tipping point of change came to be known as “The Event.” This is a dark tale that surprises with its contrast to the previous humorous story.
The Return 1919 **** This tale is a psychological horror story very disturbing to readers who have military experience during wartime. The last lines of the story might leave a reader depressed with its sense of finality and hopelessness.
The Price of Presence ***** Barclay’s latest male caregiver admired Barclay a lot. He was amazed at how much neighbor’s praised Barclay’s devotion to his religion. Through conversation during care visits, the mystery about the origin of neighborly praise was discovered. Barclay also demonstrated that even at the age of 82, he was very observant.
Making It ***** A story about succeeding in life, this story is an economic horror story about the never-ending cycle of poverty inhabited by people who accept government welfare programs as entitlements. Success is measured by how many benefits one can accrue. Inside the story, there are horrible anecdotes of child neglect. There was only one dog hair in the feeding bottle. With careful and strategic care, one disposable nappy (diaper) could be used for three days. Yet another story is of the disintegration of morals and self-worth displayed by each character; Dawn, Mom, Gary, Sasha Leigh, Darren, and all of Gary’s friends. This is the most complex story of the collection and all the moving parts work well together.
Marian interrupts ***** At this point Marian, from the first story in Me-Time Tales, jumps in to turn the direction of this collection away from the several horrible males in previous stories. Marian will tell us about a person of promise.
The Find ***** As a teenager, Dirk had suffered one of the greatest tragedies, the loss of both parents in a plane explosion. His reaction was to withdraw from all social interactions. Maybe he was logically reacting to other people’s reluctance to interact with him out of fear of giving unintentional offense. Dirk was more than an introvert; he was a loner by choice. Then came his big discovery. Things would change.
A Swan’s Journey ***** This story could be dedicated to eclectic readers. Even they have favorite books. And that leads to the conclusion of A Swan’s Journey.
A Hippopotamus is Becoming ***** On a weirdness scale, this tests meters’ (both analog and digital) limits. Animal lovers will love this story. The title is perfect.
Truth Therapy ***** The relationship between a client and a mental health consultant should be professional and neutral with the responsibility for maintaining such an environment resting with the consultant. In this story, the two are unintentionally adversarial. Which one came out on top?
Harriet Intervenes ***** This second female intervention is a plea for more accurate portrayals of potential male candidates by dating services.
Date at speed, Hate at Leisure ***** Harriet recounts one of her lesser fortunate dating experiences. Harriet and Rowan Blay Hiscoby had interests at opposite ends of the human experience.
Seen from the coach ***** US readers near the country’s southern border will see some parallels in this story.
Letting go ***** “It had been a disastrous day; one that ridiculed his perversity in lurching through the hoops of the last two decades: school, exams, training, selection, work, promotion, dating, marriage, divorce.” (Kindle Location 1624). This is a lot of information in a great second paragraph. Readers should not dwell too long thinking of examples of each of these stages. The author will provide lengthy details of each of the stages that Martin experienced. Is there hope for Martin? Perhaps only through Joe.
A Form of Patience ***** This is a story of penguins and marriage. No, it is not penguins that get married. And there is no mixed species marriage between a penguin and a human. That would be too weird. This story of Delia and Sidney is normal and, given that we are dealing with penguins, best served cold.
Success and Successor ***** Delia had moved on and presumably found a new interest in Lehmann Grant. He was very attentive to her every need except one, her true identity. Sidney has not left the room that is Delia’s mind.
Pru about Men ***** Pru gives us this third intervention in tales mostly about men. It seems not all men are recognizably present.
The Key Question ***** From the previous story a reader (me) might conclude this is Pru’s husband interrogating her. Pru’s husband is either no longer mentally in the house or he is remarkably skillful in posing questions while avoiding the necessity to answer any.
Life Before Chairs ***** This is a poignant story about problems of dyslexia and learning disabilities. It is also a sad story of how some in these marginalized groups are easily taken advantage of.
What Was Said ***** And here is the final say. Brian is a representative of the workers. Jim has asked Brian to talk to the boss. Brian says he talked to the boss. Jim now wants to know what the boss said exactly. In quizzing Brian, this is a part of Jim’s question: (Tell me)“Of what you said to him. Of what he said to you. Of what he’s going to say, since you say he said it’s up to him to say it all.” (Kindle location 2112). This is probably the one story in this collection that left me with the question: What? Not in a bad way because we can determine something. A replacement is needed for Brian.
In an Afterword, author Minett wondered if any reader enjoyed reading about her curious men. I certainly did which is why I give this work five Amazon stars, as with her previous work, Me-Time Tales. Only in the story “Swan Song” was there an “acceptable” male character. Gary in “Making It” is a justification for mandatory sterilization. This sells for USD 3.99 on Amazon and is good value for a great read. This did not stop me from reading it for free on Kindle Unlimited.