Monday, 15 February 2016

Review: Driftwood from the Specific

A genre-hopping collection...indeed.

Direct from the mind of A. P. Gilbert, 'Driftwood from the Specific' is a fantastically diverse collection of short stories and poems. Serial killers, through mysterious illnesses and all the way to 'The Wall', this collection is sure to grip, amuse and entertain. From a simple ditty to a short tale, it will soon become a favourite accompaniment to your moments of idle.

Okay, so this collection is diverse in a big way. As with all collections, some hit, some miss. So let's delve into specifics.

The poems:

Both Bonfire Boy and Spiders were entertaining enough. I thought that they purveyed 'poem' well (not being a master of the style). How to write a poem, while I understood it, I was left a little bemused. Mostly down to the formatting. But I'll come to that later.

Highlights of the shorts:

Warm Wishes, and Blink are by far my favorite entries in the collection. Blink, probably my most. Blink is, undeniably a work of creepy art. It emotes a realism in/from the writing and you can feel yourself within the story, particularly the ending.

The Daily Grind was a miss for me. I expected it to do something. I actually have a short myself that is of a similar vein, and I turned page after page expecting something to happen. And it didn't. I wanted some grand gesture from it, which never came, which is a true shame because the acerbic wit and style in the piece is actually great.

The Wall is strange. I can say nothing bad about it.

And then there is Dick.

Dick left me cold, sadly. Dick is what I would consider a traditional 'Sam Spade' type story. Gum-shoe, if you will. And it did that fairly much as I would expect. But I found the story a little...boring? It's well enough written. It follows what I assume is a traditional format for the style...but it just, sort of, happened.

Now that in itself is not a problem for a collection. However, the story fills half the book. The second half, in fact. Which brings the whole experience down for me.

My conclusion for the stories, is that calling a collection "Genre-hopping" and "Diverse" doesn't make up for the complete flip-flop the book goes through. It's style-hopping. It leaps from modern horror to forties noir, and as a collection there should be something defining "the collection". Sadly it reads as if the author had some shorts that he didn't know what to do with so lumped them together.

Which is a shame.

Me? I'd like to see the likes of Warm Wishes and Blink in a collection with other similar stories by the same author. I'd buy that. Happily. Put Dick in a collection of Dick stories, and sell that separately.

Don't get me wrong, I take nothing away from Gilbert. The writing is solid throughout.

But I must discuss the formatting.

I purchased the book on Kindle, so I speak solely for that, not the paperback.

Okay. Firstly, I was missing a TOC. I like a TOC on an ebook. Secondly, the author's name on the second page is broken in font size and positioning. Then the formatting...

The first story has indented first lines (as I would expect a fiction piece to have) however (by experience) they look like default Word indents which are way too large for Kindle. Then after the first poem, the indentation disappears entirely in favor of block text. Until the next poem (which starts two lines after the story before it finishes...)

I'm not going on. It's not professionally laid out.


I really wanted to like this. Some of the stories are truly great.

You can buy Driftwood From the Specific on Amazon UK, here:

On Amazon US, here:

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