Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Memoir / Anthology
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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52 different authors
“This collection of poignant and uplifting essays is the perfect book to enjoy over your morning coffee. The stories will warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. As a tie-in to her mystery book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, novelist and award-winning journalist Stacy Juba invited her author colleagues to answer the question "What were you doing 25 years ago?" Read about school days, quirky jobs, romance, raising a family, hard times, the writing journey, and find out what makes your favorite characters tick. This 30,000-word book will help readers to discover new authors for their to-read list, and inspire them to reflect upon the small defining moments that have shaped their own lives.”
While I read and enjoy fiction, both as entertainment and sometimes for what it can teach about real life, and non-fiction, for learning, the memoir, which I also enjoy, is somewhere in the middle. It’s true, or at least some person’s view of the truth, but done well it can still entertain, just like a fictional story. We all have stories that, given the prerequisite writing chops, could be entertaining. Which leads me to a few observations about books like this (and others like it), as well as where these stories worked best for me, and a few reasons why some didn’t.
One of the positives is that these short, autobiographical stories are variously interesting, entertaining, enlightening, and all the other adjectives sometimes used to describe a good tale of this type. They stand on their own. But they also give the reader some exposure to an author they might not be aware of, and what avid reader isn’t on the lookout for that? To pretend the contributing authors don’t see this as a marketing tool would be naïve, but it is marketing that is a win-win. With the hundreds of books I’ve read in the last few years, I’d only read a handful of these authors. Getting a glimpse into their way with words is much more efficient for a reader than reading sample after sample of their novels. Plus, many of us like the glimpse behind the scenes, at the real person behind the fiction we’ve been reading.
Which leads me to the one aspect of this collection that didn’t work as well for me. These were ten of the stories that broke the pattern of the autobiographical memoir, instead using the same exercise of writing about something from twenty-five years in the past from the viewpoint of one of the author’s characters. While pertinent as a writing exercise, which is the reason these pieces were originally done, and on the surface a good marketing move, I found these stories much harder to get into. The exception was the character I was familiar with, which seems the opposite of the desired effect.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars