(Before I get to my 2nd book review today, I just wanted to state that--no--I am not a student of the Evelyn Woods Speed Reading Dynamics program, just someone who reads during my lunch break, instead of watching TV (most of the time), and at every chance I get. Not to mention short story collections are easy to read a little at a time . . .)
UGLY STORIES FOR BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE by James Burr (2007 Corsega Press / 272 pp. / tp)
This is the first time I've read anything by James Burr, and if these short stories are any indication of what he has up his sleeve, I'm betting many more people will be hearing about him soon.
UGLY STORIES features thirteen of Burr's shorts, and while most contain a horrific element, he really mixes things up and truly has his own style. Many of the stories here go into bizarro-territory, but not so much that you'll get lost (at least you shouldn't). Just about every piece in UGLY STORIES features "normal" settings gone awry, yet done in a way that's anything but routine.
My favorites: BOB AND JANE:A FABLE IN TWO INDISTINCT PARTS is a most unusual love story (this collection ends with an all-new mini-mini-sequel simply titled BOB AND JANE); THE DADA RELATIONSHIP POLICE ties in wonderfully with the aforementioned BOB AND JANE, and a few of the stories here are actually linked by things we see described in other stories (such as backgrounds and sounds); FOETAL ATTRACTION is just a fantastic piece of storytelling, told from the point of view of a (I don't want to spoil this!) . . . its heartbreaking and features very realistic characters.
The BEST piece here is titled IT (this bears absolutely NO resemblance to the Stephen King novel), a gem of a bizarro outing that features an amazing piece of social commentary you won't soon forget. And I bet you'll panic the next time you fart after reading this, too (UGLY STORIES is full of humor, yet Burr delivers it in clever fashion as to not diminish the serious and odd tones of most of his stories).
Some of the works included date back to 1997, and appeared in what I believe are British magazines (Burr is from the UK), so chances are these will all be new to you. I DEFINITELY have my eye out for more from this guy . . . where's he been hiding all these years?