Sunday, April 1, 2012

Not From Concentrate by David Wallace Fleming, Part One

I listened to a (free) audiobook version of Not from Concentrate, narrated by the author (you can find this, again for free, here). This was my first, and probably my last, audiobook experience. I enjoyed this collection of bizarre short stories, but I think I would have had a better time reading them in print or on my Nook. Listening to books just isn't for me. That being said, here's part one of my two part review of each of these stories (I'm thorough like that):

"Robot Famous"- It kinda feels like Hollywood is already headed in this direction, with all the plastic surgery and makeup that celebrities use to look ageless. I feel sorry for Susan, being a 'real human' and unable to measure up to the robots that have been taking over acting positions through the years. Society is all about perfection and being able to sell stuff, so it's got to be difficult to stay in that career past your prime.

"The Corporate Afterlife"- Feeling a little ambivalent about this one.. I like Fleming's take on the afterlife, and how people would react to their own untimely deaths. Particularly in this case. "Where's the angels and glowing light and pearly gates?" Well, you didn't want to look at the beauty in life, so here's all the technology and the things that you surrounded yourself with in life. I do, however, think that Fleming used repetition just a little too much in this story. And by that, I mean and entire minute or two was devoted to his talking about the 'things' that the character's wife used in her daily life. A little repetition would have been nice, but I think it was a bit much. Also, I listened to this story a while ago, and can't remember if the characters were named in the story. If he was, then I'm just an idiot and can't recall the names. If not, that's pretty cool, since society is becoming more and more wireless, and more and more anonymous. He was only referred to as 'Wolverine', his Xbox Live name. Oh, the world today.

"The Natural Celebrity"- whatdahell. This was a comedy that I just kinda sat and stared blankly as I listened to it. IT'S ABOUT A POOP CONTEST. Idk I think I missed the point of this one. Is it that people will applaud someone for being the best at something, regardless of what that 'something' is? I think I was too caught off guard by this story to properly appreciate it..

"Father Internet" which I liked a lot more. The message I got from this story was to stop focusing on whatever it is you're focusing on, and just enjoy yourself and live in the moment. You'll be more relaxed and fun, and may even get to dance and have fun with some attractive women! You know, instead of sitting in the bar waiting for your iPhone to load with YouTube clips of how to appeal to women.

When I think office life, I seriously think
boring monotony with occasional
"Office Space" or "Mad Men" type drama.
"Yuppie Marooned"- This was a really interesting take on office life. In a sense, workers really are marooned. Especially in this story, where poor Andy Iowa finds his way from happiness in Texas to insanity-producing boredom in Virginia. "It's not the black or the white we fear. Anything pure can be beautiful. It's the grey we fear," is such a thought provoking quote. \Whether something is all good, or all bad, we're not quite as afraid of it as we are the unknown. Also, I'm getting the feeling that Fleming once worked in an office, and hated it. There are a couple stories involving cubicle life, and none of them are making me jump for that kind of a career.

"Microcosmic Romance"- CHERRYWOOD NIPPLES! This was a hilarious story, akin to a grown up Dr. Seuss book. I definitely think this was all the more funny having listened to it, rather than reading it in print. Sometimes hard to understand, and I had to go back and re-listen to parts, but in a good way. Like reading "A Clockwork Orange", you have to use context clues to understand these nonsensical words. I had a blast with this one though. Very unexpected, but very entertaining.

So there you have it, my review of the first half of David Wallace Fleming's Not from Concentrate. The first six short stories receive an overall rating of 4 of 5 stars. They were very well written, and even the stories I was less than satisfied with (see "Natural Celebrity") were still at the very least inventive, interesting, and fun to listen to. If anything else, grab the free audiobook just to listen to "Microcosmic Romance", that is definitely one of my favorite short stories as of right now. Although to be honest, I don't read short stories all that often. But this one is still really good.


  1. It's been great reading your reactions to these short stories that I recorded in the walk-in closet of my studio apartment. These stories each represent something important to me regarding modern life and sharing them with reviewers over on the East coast and in Alaska when I'm over here in Texas is a dream come true. (That sounds a little corny, huh...)

    Keep up the good work with your blog. What you're doing is important.

  2. I like when I get little behind the scenes tidbits like that. I'm listening to "Goodbye, My Television" and now I'm just imagining you sitting in a closet speaking into a recorder in different voices. Really puts a different spin on it hahah.

    I'm really looking forward to grabbing some of your other books too David. Thanks a lot for your comments, I really like knowing that this site is being checked out :)

  3. I also linked to your site over at mine, (In the blogroll).