Quirky Tales to Make Your Day by Samantha Henthorn delivers several goodies to your reading table beginning with the title. You know there must be humor, and can we ever have too much of that? “Quirky” indicates that we will meet tales of the routine that got bent a bit at the last left turn. Readers may find themselves going about their daily routines and looking for quirkiness in their own previously considered dull days. Reader awareness increases. We feel an increase in our education base without accompanying student loan debt. Can anyone have too much education or student loan debt? Sorry, got carried away there.
Following is my take on the exciting points of 26 stories. Everyday items, such as wheelie bins, household appliances, a teenager’s first job, and nasty, annoying, or even dangerous neighbors are some of the things we will see in the first few stories. I try hard to avoid spoilers; the point is to make readers want to read the completed, original stories.
I love short story collections because I can carry them around and fill all the mental dead spots which occur during a working day. I also like to comment on each story I read. Posted reviews which do not indicate a reviewer has read the book irritate me, seem dishonest, and should be criticized, although the industry of paid reviews would undoubtedly disagree with me.
1) American Elevator ***** What would vacation be without elevators to take one to the extreme points where 360-degree vision is best? But what if you hate elevators and your entire vacation becomes an attempt to escape getting in such a crowded, enclosed capsule? The behavior of friends, families, and witnesses to your discomfort define Schadenfreude, something you cannot enjoy.
2) Hate ***** This tale is a rumination on unsolicited advice and the sourcing of “they.” What should be the bane of news agencies, “they” always know what is best for us. We must campaign for a more visible “they.” It seems that in Great Britain, “they” can even commit s person for a period of involuntary commitment. The US also has such laws, but UK laws seemingly make it easier to do. That’s what “they” told me.
3) Midget Gems ***** Midget Gems only appear to be gems. The gems are ecstasy and a form of entertainment in some housing estates. Missy was entertained until Kelly disappeared. Where could she have gone? This disturbing tale is about drugs and peer pressure.
4) Summer is the Best Time for Ambition ***** Ernest’s story is a victory celebration. Beginning as a momma’s boy and not even noticed by neighborhood merchants, Ernest first earns their respect as a dependable delivery person. His success at a first job, in turn, leads him to believe he can achieve even bigger things. Laughed at by most members of his immediate family, he is determined to show them. Will he succeed? Read the story.
5) The Washing Machine Diaries (an Excerpt) ***** Anybody or anything can be an author. Ask the Washing Machine.
6) To Kill Two Birds ***** Harold and Edna dedicated the later years of their lives to getting rid of Mr. Platt. It had worked with other neighbors, but Mr. Platt seemed more of a challenge. Harold and Edna badly misjudged Mr. Platt.
7) Pogonophobia ***** Here is a familiar problem with a twist. Either you are standing somewhere waiting for, perhaps, delivery and other people begin to join the queue you have inadvertently begun. Or maybe you are the joiner? How do we get out of these embarrassing situations? Read the story.
8) V is for Very ***** This story is notable for its narrator. And there is a scary warning about anonymous meetings through social media and otherwise.
9) Pretty Scary ***** Narrator and husband visited the hometown where Kurt Cobain had grown up. Everything seemed to have died, their iPhones among them. The town and its inhabitants were strangely devoid of life; it was like an ancient ghost town. Think of this as a twist on “You can’t go home again.”
10) One Small Step ***** Ben’s parents were responsible for his growing up with an obsession about aliens. When he married Sue, she could accept his obsession, but she determined the obsession would not affect their son, Bobby. She would not allow Ben to affect son Bobby’s choice of a hobby. Without knowledge of Ben’s childhood obsession, Bobby filled time and space with an obsession for photography. On a summer vacation, Bobby took a photograph which spurred father Ben’s obsession with aliens. Ben had lived life disappointed no one had ever believed him. Ben was wrong.
11) The Witch Hunt ***** For this multi-faceted story, look for the way Samantha Henthorn uses many variations of the phrase “paper-thin.” An outstanding story.
12) The Storm in a Teacup ***** Dreams DO come true.
13) The Reminder ***** We can summarize this story with the question, “What is Hope without trust?”
14) Swimmingly ***** This story has an abrupt break and takes a new direction at the story’s halfway point. Another excellent, superior story.
15) Night Time Wonderings ***** I thought this story had the best first line.” My husband is a quiet man until he falls asleep.” (p. 112). And then we can go on about the knickers.
16) Qu’est-ce que c’est ***** This story I found puzzling. There is a long build-up to an unexpected ending that I did not see coming. Rereading, it made no more sense to me the second time.
17) Tangling ***** Living under the radar (or pumpkin) made for long life. Sate and Soth opted for showing off. Bad move to attract so much attention. Wandy had been around for a long time and probably would be around for many more compost sessions.
18) The Mystery of Sight ***** Think of child stars who have grown and can’t get work. Or A-list and B-list stars who have reached a date beyond their live appearance expiry date. This story is for them.
19) Madame Cézanne *****, A future critical look at selfies and Instagram from the 1870 girlfriend of Cezanne, the story has an important message for social media residents of today.
20) Safari Type Trip ***** The Sunny down Day Center had a special feature allowing its members to plan an occasional day trip to some local event or significant tourist attraction. After the trip in this story, the special trip feature was canceled. Members cheered.
21) Italian Elvis ***** The message from this story, despite its title and despite a sheepish admission, is that not EVERYTHING is about Elvis.
22) Cringe-Worthy People ***** Meeting the family of a possible future fiancée is not usually as traumatic as the events in this story.
23) The Causeway ***** Trapped in a time loop on Christmas day, circling to the same boring point of departure each time, the couple was hopelessly lost. At least they had each other. One needs a partner to sustain an argument.
24) A Fresh Start ***** The paramedics responded to an emergency call for Graham. Why was his provider spending all his time staring at Yvonne?
25) Finding the Right Name ***** For people who can speak only one language, “Dog” is a difficult language to master.
26) Spoofapedia ***** Bands succeed, bands fail, and many bands are legends in their minds. A reader challenge here is to match the band in this story with one known to the reader.
The overwhelming majority of stories in this collection are good to superior, so I give it five stars. The 221-page collection published in 2017 sells on Amazon for USD 0.99 and is available as a free read on Kindle Unlimited. Further, due to its broad range of contexts, I highly recommend the collection.
I look forward to reading more Samantha Henthorn novels.