The unexpected is becoming harder and harder to come by these days. We are living in a world where every next occurrence invokes that inevitable thought: We had that thing coming. From suicide bombings to demonstrations for mixed public restrooms and the decline of you-name-it, there’s hardly anything that raises the eyebrows anymore.
Fortunately the imagination can still serve us some pretty unexpected stuff, even if a contemporary myth tells us that ‘reality is stranger than fiction’ — a mantra I sincerely disagree with, or at least I do since the 21st century began and the attack on some large buildings appeared to resemble a Hollywood movie from the early 1980s. Suddenly I realized that the imagination had already prepared us for the new wave of atrocities.
If you’re feeling even remotely the same, if you’re feeling that it’s nice to be experiencing something unexpected for a change, ‘The Land of Words’ by D.S. White is right up your alley. I’m a ‘broad reader’, meaning I read both literary fiction and some SF or thrillers or fantasy, as long as it’s well done, and I can see White is skilled and precise, while allowing his stories to take that unexpected turn. That makes this collection of short stories rather varied and it would be undoable to go into each story. You’ll have to experience it for yourself.
I myself enjoy the way White creates an ambiance, the way he sketches the environment of the story in the beginning. (Quote: “Matthew woke up in the back seat, sitting behind the girls,” how’s that for an opening.) What I like is that I have no clue as to what might happen in this setting. His style of writing is concise and illustrative, but it still leaves me some space to wander in my own mind. As this is not be the place to talk about the story plots, I’ll just say I’m always surprised. White creates a fine balance between unexpected story developments on the one hand and larger visions on the other, larger visions that envelope his stories throughout.
That kind of writing is hard to come by these days too.
(review of free book)