Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: Four American Tales by Jack Messenger

Genre: Short Story Collection


“Secrets. Money. Love. Death. Sometimes they’re hard to tell apart.
Four American Tales describes a world of hopes and fears on the far side of the American Dream, in a quartet of evocative stories about love and loss, struggle and ambition from the 1950s to the present day.

Wichega is an atmospheric tale of childhood’s dreams and nightmares: when Sweet Pea and her family move far away, is it really because her father has quit the Navy, or is there something else going on – something to do with his new Oldsmobile and the monster that lives in the pond out by the highway?

A Hundred Ways to Live follows Nadine and Earle outside the Law as they travel across the desert in search of the stolen money they hope will give them a new life.

Ballbusters on Parade is an unconventional parable of work in the sex industry: Mike is persuaded by his girlfriend Yolanda to apply for a screen test. Success, however, leads him in unexpected directions.

Uncle Mort tells how a bequest gives rise to unforeseen problems. Helen and Thomas are successful and happy New Yorkers. News of her uncle’s death opens up the past and suddenly everything becomes uncertain – marriage, identity and what to do with a tumbledown house that no one wants.

All four stories feature great female characters, powerful writing and intriguing storylines – stories in which things happen and people change.”


A full-time writer and editor, Jack Messenger lives in the UK. He is the author of one novel and multiple non-fiction books in addition to this short story collection.


Interesting characters and stories. In the foreword the author indicates that one of his aims with the stories is to “provoke thought.” The stories certainly did that with me. They have characters and storylines that make you wonder, sometimes forcing you to read between the lines and, in doing so, making the story your own since your interpretation will be different than mine. A good, fast read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words

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