Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mean Streets, by Gord Rollo and Gene O'Neill

Life on the streets may not seem normal to you or I, but to those who must live this way, it is the new reality, and the new normality.  So when something, well, abnormal occurs in the gritty, sometimes seedy, ultra urban streets of the city, you know it really is unusual.  This book contains short stories of amazing, frightening, beautiful, and horrific tales of life in the shadows, life on the streets.

Modern urban fables.  That is how I saw these stories.  Several of the stories focus on a kind of transformation of the self, in the most literal sense.  And who among us has not undergone, or at least wished to, some type of major change.  So even though these stories are fantastical in nature, we as readers are still able to relate to them.  And I found the writing to be almost haunting.  The characters are vivid, we see their stories unfolding not on the page but in our hearts and minds.  We want to know these stories as intimately as possible.

Of the stories in the book, Moving Pictures is my favorite.  It details a thug who tries to hustle an Asian tattooist, who, in exchange, gives him the most beautiful and dangerous tattoo.  I love this story because its plot offers the thug a chance to transform, to be redeemed as a human.  He has a choice, you see, as we all do.  He chooses the tragic.  But he still had a choice.  I find this to be a bewitching tale.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book.  Sometimes, short stories can be tedious, but not this book.  Perfect pacing, timing, and character development in these tales, to the point that they were almost hypnotic.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

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