Today’s book review of a short story collection is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
Elements of Life by David Kendrick
Two thirds of the earth is covered by water. This means that people’s lives are influenced daily by this element.
This anthology is for people that in everyday life are touched by all the elements and who want to read about it and experience it through words.
This book is the first volume of a collection of four books celebrating the environment that surrounds us.
Book one is biased towards the element of water.
Dave Kendrick lives in Bournemouth and works full time in Poole as a Technical Author. He has an Honours Degree in English Literature and is currently studying his final year of an MA in Creative Writing with Manchester Metropolitan University.When he isn’t writing Dave enjoys travelling, camping, surfing and the great outdoors. This inspires and provides the fuel for the fire of his writing.
David has been writing fiction for thirteen years and has had short stories, flash fiction, letters, articles and poetry published in national magazines. His first (as yet unpublished) novel titled ‘Unleashed’ was short listed for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook novel competition in 2007. His second novel ‘Reef’ was published in e-book and paperback formats in 2012 and is available on Amazon.
He was also recently interviewed on BBC Radio Solent about ‘Reef’ and his current writing projects. He is busy editing his third novel ‘Deep’ to be completed by the end of 2014.
You can find out more about David Kendrick and his writing by visiting Facebook on http://www.facebook.com/DavidKendrickauthor
His anthology of short stories and flash fiction, ‘Elements of Life’ is available in e-book format:
- on Amazon.co.uk via http://www.amazon.co.uk/ELEMENTS-OF-LIFE-BOOK-1-ebook/dp/B00EKI646W
- on Amazon.com via http://www.amazon.com/ELEMENTS-OF-LIFE-BOOK-1-ebook/dp/B00EKI646W
His latest novel, ‘Reef’ is available in e-book and paperback formats:
- on Amazon.co.uk via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reef-David-Kendrick-ebook/dp/B008GF4GT2
- on Amazon.com via http://www.amazon.com/Reef-David-Kendrick-ebook/dp/B008GF4GT2
From as far back as I can remember (although I have a terrible memory so it may be as a teenager!), I have loved water. I have medals, badges and certificates for swimming achievements. A colleague staying at my house a few months ago pointed out that all the pictures around my house (c.20) have water in them. I hadn’t noticed, or given it any thought, but it’s true. I love the stuff. So, this collection is very apt.
After the table of contents, there is a touching dedication (to David’s wife, Cathy), and then we embark on the first of the eight stories, the title story, Elements. In first-person narration, I’m guessing a teenager, it’s a touching story of loss (in this case, the protagonist’s grandfather). Our young man, Ben, says ‘Granddad was fun’ and this story certainly shows this. The writing is simple but with lines like, ‘I look up to the sky, to the heavens through the loft window. It was where mum said granddad had gone to. But I know he’s in the ground.’ It’s easy to feel empathy for him. The writing shows rather than tells the relationship between the two people. It has a beautiful ending and a simply stunning start to the collection.
I love flash fiction and ‘Earth’ is tiny; less than a Kindle (Mac app) page. It certainly packs a punch although I had to read it twice for the full story to sink in because it’s so rich.
‘Water’ is barely longer than ‘Earth’ and is another first-person story and yet again, the writing is exquisite.
‘Fire’ is a darker piece, again from a first-person narrator. It reminded me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies which I read at secondary school. Lord of the Flies in 220 words. I love that book.
Completing the elements in this section is ‘Air’, a third-person story about the simple things in life, with another ‘wow’ ending.
The sixth piece in this collection is ‘Rollercoaster’, the second third-person story and slightly longer, at five pages. Stories work well when they filter information and here we learn about the two main characters line by line. David is very good at subtle metaphors and in this story, he compares an office worker’s day to what could have been her army career. It’s funny. It’s also another story about ordinary people and the simple life – I got the ending I was hoping for.
The next story shares it’s name with Albert Camus’ ‘L’Étranger’, The Outsider, but I suspect it won’t be as dark. ‘The Outsider’ takes us back into first-person and this time to another loss, to a funeral. It turned out not to be dark as such but sad and, I think, just as powerful.
I’m a titles fan and this story, the final in the collection, has my favourite, ‘Heirlooms in the Sand’, because it’s intriguing. Again we have a first-person narrator recollecting on time spent with his grandfather, except this protagonist is older with a young son. It’s another touching tale with an ‘ahh’ ending. Delightful.
I’m a freelance editor and while I can’t help but notice minor adjustments (mostly punctuation) that I would have suggested changing, I can’t fault this collection. The writing is superb and stories quality over quantity, so it gets a rare – for me – 5 out of 5.
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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