Saturday, February 23, 2013

With and Without Class by David Wallace Fleming

David Fleming is one of the first authors I got in touch with after setting up a Goodreads account, and I am still glad I did. His writing is insightful, entertaining, and funny no matter which of his works you've picked up. The latest one in my hands, With and Without Class, is a collection of short stories, many of which appear in his other collection Not from Concentrate (I reviewed this audiobook in two parts, here and here). Overall, I definitely enjoyed myself throughout this set of stories, although there were some that stuck out more than others, and is a solid 4 out of 5 star collection in my book.

What I liked about With and Without Class is that while some stories are still very technology heavy, David tries a few different directions as well; he includes some horror and science fiction/fantasy stories in this collection. My favorites were "An Anniversary Concession" and "Talent Police", but I wasn't overly fond of "White Daddies" or "Embarkment". Mostly because I was a bit confused and couldn't really see the meaning behind the story itself.

David has a style of writing that, even though each story is rather short, you get a feel for the characters and what kinds of emotions they're experiencing. In "An Anniversary Concession", you can't help but feel as Eric did- nervous at the thought of taking the call by himself, then overwhelmed and shocked by the situation that ensues. In "Talent Police", which is told through a series of entries both to Frank's diary and to his diary's diary, I empathized with Frank, who was trying to discover who he was and what his purpose was, but was too fixated on other people to really see himself. Kind of sounds familiar, right? Too many people focused on the lifestyles and habits of celebrities and not-really celebrities to concentrate on their own lives and the lives of those around them.

Some of the other stories were a bit confusing, but were still fun to read and try to decipher what was going on and why- It'd be interesting, for example, to see the backstory to "Embarkment", including how the crew got to where they were, and why they became auras of their former selves. Even as I write this review, I find that I'm constantly having to remind myself that a short story is essentially a clip from the potential novel that it could be, and not everything can or will be explained without the story becoming a much longer piece of work (not that I'd be complaining, having more to read from a talented author such as David).

While I was able to learn a bit more about the symbolism and meaning behind "White Daddies" through speaking with the author, my arachnophobia still took precedent over any potential deep reading of the story. There is certainly a lot that could be gotten from the story, I am just not tough enough to get through it again :P

So, there you have it. Another fantastic work from an author I look forward to seeing more from. Definitely a recommended book, especially for people who have trouble getting through a full novel- they're short stories, everyone has time to sit and read one once in a while!

- Justin :)

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