A Book of Short Stories
By: Jason Atkinson
Published: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Mascot Books
Iowa City based author, Jason Atkinson, hasn't always been a reader. Hoping to identify both with those who love novels and those who maybe like reading shorter books, Atkinson has written a collection of seven short stories. Each of these stories involves someone dealing with a troubling situation and human compassion offered to give hope. Since these are short stories, you can read one in a less than an hour. The stories aren't connected so you can read one story at a time without worry of forgetting characters or situations. But, there is a recurring theme of not giving up and there can be a way out for those who are struggling.
These seven stories include a man accused of murdering his friend, a man who was once respected in his community has found himself homeless, a lonely man whose life is changed by a chance meeting in a coffee shop, a scientist who gets involved in a government conspiracy, and a brother who says his final goodbye. But my favorite two stories involved a runaway teenager on a train and a checkout clerk who brings joy to a family at Christmas. Both of these stories left me wanting to know more and elicited emotions from me while reading. Maybe it has to do with my own personal interests or maybe because these two stories felt real to me and the author was spot on in his descriptions.
Since these are all short stories, they are without the details I'm used to in reading longer novels. In these stories, the author gets right to the point without adding any extra information or time between situations. But, the stories still include depth and description to offer the reader emotion and visuals into the character's situation. Since most of these stories offer sadness, the author has to convey these emotions without being too wordy and he does so succinctly. The only story that I felt too rushed and contrived was the scientist story. It didn't seem to go with the rest of the collection and was a bit too unrealistic for me.
Overall, I enjoyed this short story collection because in each story there was a glimmer of hope that the character would recover from their situation. The encouragement and compassion in these stories reminded me to look for those situations in which I can offer empathy to another as I go about my day.