The US Review | Oburoni and Other Stories

Title : Oburoni and Other Stories
Author : Andrew Rees
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 86 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1962497038
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ ‎ 978-1962497039
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 6.2 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.37 x 8 inches

book review by Michael Radon

“All that preparation work for nothing. Hopes raised, only to be dashed. An apology was just inadequate.”
Everyone’s got a story, though many look a lot less like your average fantasy story or hard-boiled crime drama. For many of us, it’s the pain of loneliness, adapting to difficult situations, or moments of elation at personal victories dashed down by the smallest of inconveniences or unfortunate turns. Like events in the life of an average person, these stories are not tales of dashing heroism and sacrifice but accounts of people trying to find normalcy in routine after a divorce, indulging in their hobbies, and looking for work. These are the kinds of stories that get shared around Sunday brunch or over coffee, not to brag or embellish, but because we need others to recognize the work of survival, whether it becomes painful or a point of pride.

This collection of short stories offers truly modern fiction and protagonists as easy to like as any paragon of virtue. They feature heroes found as easily as walking down the street or looking around the office. Each selection examines a different type of person or situation and exemplifies the kinds of qualities it takes to handle twenty-first-century life with grace and dignity. Though many may have never had to drive for hours simply to visit with their own child or volunteered in Africa to rediscover meaning, readers can empathize with and understand those who do better after seeing their stories laid out here. Fittingly, the final story in this book is about New Year’s Eve, a day of resetting expectations and looking forward to the future with hope and dreams. These stories prove that anyone can take life as it comes and make the most of it, even if it may be otherwise unglamorous.

There’s a certain poise to the characters of these stories that makes them all the easier to root for as they narrate their own examinations of their lives for better or worse. They admit to their shortcomings and undersell their successes in a way that isn’t whiny or attention-seeking but makes the reader want to lift them up or see their stories unfold in favorable ways. The writing is direct yet snappy, with the ability to hyperfocus on details or gloss over the background noise the way that everyone employs their own personal filters. Small details like these help to make each and every story included here feel lifelike and realistic, even with such a wide variety of characters featured in each of the dozen stories presented.

Oftentimes the short story format can leave readers attached to a single story or a small handful and wanting to see them fleshed out across hundreds of pages at the expense of the other chapters, but that is not the case here. The brevity and sculpted direction of these stories are on equal footing with one another, and no particular chapters feel as if they could have been cut and excluded. The pace is lifelike, too, reminding readers that the hard times will pass, but so will the good ones, and so they ought to be treasured deeply as they happen. Lovers of modern fiction rooted in reality will have an opportunity here to become absorbed and engrossed. Though the characters are often little more than a name and a light description, their motivations and reactions are developed perfectly and give the right amount of depth to what otherwise functions as pocket-sized reading.

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