Bang Crunch

I just finished a collection of nine short stories by Neil Smith. My initial reaction was, “the former NHL GM writes short fiction?” but, alas, no. This Neil Smith is apparently a translator in Quebec.

As a whole, it’s worth the read and the penny it is currently going for used on Amazon. I got it with a 40% off coupon on Borders and still don’t consider it a bad buy.

While it is worth a read, it is a read that will leave you constantly disappointed. From Isolettes, which leads the collection out of the gate, to Jaybird, which brings the doors to a close, it is a collection of ideas three-quarters formed.  Each story is began and made interesting, they build to the point where you’re curious, but their endings are repeatedly unsatisfactory.  At times it is as if Smith has simply ran out of energy, as if he has spent it all getting to the twenty page mark and has decided it is time to simply bring the things to a close, one way or another.

I have a feeling that Smith knows the majority of the stories have certain problems as he names his book after the one story that works the best (and, perhaps not coincindentally, is also the shortest). Bang Crunch is the eleven page story of a girl who rapidly ages and then de-ages. It is a life condensed. And it is a story condensed. Where the other stories leave you empty  to some degree, Bang Crunch leaves you  full to the point of wishing there was more story into which everything could be emptied. It is a fullness that works very well for Smith.

Smith has skill. He has ability. What it needs is refined and honed. I like forward to his future collections and to see how this translator from Quebec grows.

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