Life is a Short Story by Jana Koklic is a collection of short stories about trying to assimilate into a different culture. Fourteen short stories in thirty-six pages present images of funny situations that can occur when one doesn’t know what is going on or what is expected in a different cultural environment. As a “permanent ex-pat,” I have faced these type of problems for decades, and I still enjoy the give-and-take required to establish a comfortable lifestyle in an unfamiliar location. It is educational, but more selfishly, it is fun. This collection was not written by a native English speaker, and I overlooked minor errors that did not affect meaning.
Trapped Between the Lands ***** This is an impressive perception of the difference between Homeland and Hostland. As a military veteran who regularly traveled during my career, I found the thoughts accurate.
Skunk ***** Foreign language learners frequently search the mental library for precisely the right vocabulary word to use in an expression. Sometimes they get it right. Timmy got close.
Awkward ***** “Do you want to go out?” (location 71) can be interpreted in many ways. The author did not mean what the listener, also a non-native English speaker, thought he heard.
Crutches ***** In this story, the author concentrates on pronunciation problems. Readers might appreciate the issues that could occur with the word “crutches.”
Poop ***** Just because is a word is correct does not mean it can be used in all situations. A visit to the zoo produced this exchange as a child learned to describe what animals were doing.
Squishy ***** This story is closely related to the one above. Think about this when searching for attractive and colorful rocks as souvenirs.
Son’s Duty Package ***** There are some jobs that you can’t assign to your kids. If you unthinkingly do so, they will let you know as in this family story about preparing for a trip.
Ho(me)tel ***** Cleaning up after a meal is a necessary function, but whose responsibility is it? Mom has one idea; the youngest daughter has another.
Gift ***** This is another story about pronunciation, but in this case, the native speaker was very condescending in her dismissal of the author’s incorrect perception. I liked the author’s reply to a native speaker.
Movie ***** This tale is about the problems of viewing films cross-culturally. Scenes popular and widespread in one culture might be considered to be as inappropriate in another. This story may have carried the differences to an extreme.
Ninja ***** The author explores role-playing and the meaning of roles. The logic in the solution is beautiful.
A Mess ***** Sometimes the solution children offer to a problem is superior to the ones provided by parents.
Middle Finger *****The title of this story tells it all. There are different meanings for “body language” as borders are crossed.
The Lake ***** The beauty of the lake is destroyed by cold reality.
This collection is a three-star Amazon read that I would feel comfortable using in a class for English as Second Language learners. The illustration of language problems combined with the idea of a requirement for cultural awareness makes this suitable supplementary classroom material. The stories have enhanced value because they were written by a non-native speaker. Amazon sells the collection for USD 2.99; Kindle Unlimited offers the best value where it can be read for free.