Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
‘Oyster: A Boy’ by Rosalind Minett
Synopsis: When 10 year-old Jake finds a body in the deserted church he cannot help police much with their enquiries, although the Children’s Home say he’s the cleverest boy there. What does he really know?
The unreliable narrator lays out an analysis of his past to frustrate the reader. The well-meant guideline for planning his future becomes distorted. His chequered life leads to a chilling conclusion, if we can believe it. Is death a key to his future?
This short is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Oyster-potential-choirboys-sinister-discovery-ebook/dp/B00OQTA1FK and http://www.amazon.com/Oyster-potential-choirboys-sinister-discovery-ebook/dp/B00OQTA1FK.
Rosalind Minett (writing name) trained as a dancer, but academic life took over. She studied in Birmingham, Sussex and Exeter universities before enjoying a career as a chartered psychologist.
The inner life of her characters determines their fate in her stories, whether humorous, historical or criminal. She relishes quirkiness, and writes about always imaginary people.
Her ironic avatar – Girl Before Word Processor – (with thanks to Picasso) with its two faces, suggests her two selves, the serious and the irreverent. It also refers to the watcher and the seen, the inner and the outer person.
Presently on Amazon is a collection of ironic short stories, Me-Time Tales: Tea breaks for mature women and curious men. This has its own blog where the characters do the talking: http://fictionalcharacterswriting.blogspot.com.
A Relative Invasion is a trilogy about a boyhood rivalry that mirrors the tensions in Europe during WWII. Book 1, Intrusion. Book 2, Infiltration. Book 3, Impact.
Crime Shorts is a series. The first is on Kindle: Oyster: a boy with potential.
Forthcoming novels, The Parody and Speechless.
Rosalind lives in the West Country and loves scenery, sculpture, theatre and fine art, all of which can be found in and around Bath.
This is a short short story (just 20 pages) so my review will be likewise so there are no plot spoilers.
Narrated in first-person by the boy (Jake), the writing feels authentic (not that I’ve ever been a 10-year-old boy). As we know from the synopsis, he’s a clever boy and has an amusing way of speaking e.g. “had done him over good and proper” and I liked the description of someone jumping off Hell’s Leap.
As the plot unfolds, we see why Jake lives in the home and the effect he has on others. It’s a shame I read the synopsis before reading the story because knowing in advance that Jake was an unreliable narrator meant I expected not to believe what he was saying, but it’s still very well written.
We should learn something from what we read and I did about oysters, why this eBook was given its title and what the ‘well-meant guideline’ was and what it lead to.
This story has a feel of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, although I much preferred this one, and it just goes to show how much can be done in around 5,000 words.
Rating: 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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For anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.
If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.