Book Review: The Stories In Between

I enjoy the poetry on River Dixon’s blog, and I saw he had short story collection coming out. I pre-ordered the book and read it for this indie month!

The Book

tsib-cover-promo-smallThe Stories In Between
Author: River Dixon
2019
Amazon Link

I really enjoy River Dixon’s poetry. Even though I’m not a very good at judging poetry, I can feel the emotion from his words. I haven’t read much of his prose, though, so I’m excited to see what this book holds!

Non-Spoiler Review

One thing I like about short story collections is the variety of tales you can find. One thing I don’t like about short story collections is the variety, since some are inevitably not as good/favorite as others.

Overall, Dixon’s collection is spooky, twisted, and murderous. There’s a lot of curious events and unexplained occurrences. Overall, there were stories I liked and stories I didn’t like, but most of them lay somewhere in between. The stories often had some humorous elements that I liked, and some were spine-chllingly creepy.

There were several sentences with poor grammar or typos that caused me to draw out of the narrative. The other issue I had was that most of the stories (Not “Last Wednesday at Sue’s Place”) had a narrator that seemed like the same person. In “Last Wednesday at Sue’s Place,” the third person narrator examined a lot of characters, one of which was similar to the usual character of “crass, somewhat unsuccessful white man with a few psychological issues.”

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Herein, I’m going to talk about a selection of 3 stories from the book: My favorite, one that stood out, and one that I explicitly didn’t like.

Favorite: The Example
Definitely my favorite story! The two brothers who were main characters in this story were hilarious. Even though they were evil, they didn’t appreciate how bad their actions were for most of the story, and that led to some fantastic horror comedy. The backdrop of Christmas in the story added another layer of flavor and established the most definitive setting of any story within the collection.

Standout: The Diner 
This story stood out to me because of its repetition, because of its interesting theme (descent into madness), and metaphysical appreciation of itself. Cathy, the waitress at the diner, was a great secondary character.

Least Favorite: The Case of the Missing Pillow
This story’s theme didn’t strike me as making up for the needlessly gruesome murder of a prostitute. Killing women is a common (and now disdained) story mechanism, and to me this story felt like a dried husk of a worn-out trope. Several stories used violence against women or children, but this one had the least justification by far.

Next week:

I will be reading Colleen Chesebro’s Fairies, Myths, and Magic collection. I’m a huge fan of her Tanka Tuesday and other posts, so I’m looking forward to seeing what her book has in store!

8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Stories In Between

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    I have a similar reaction to short story anthologies as you do, HRR. Some stories I love, some don’t do much for me. I do like the variety, though, especially with speculative fiction where the imagination can go wild. Thanks for the review.

  2. Miriam Hurdle says:

    Your review has good insights to short stories. I’m used to reading short story collections or devotional. Just have different expectation than reading a novel.
    I enjoyed your review.
    By the way, are you done with your dessertation?

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