Tales of Misery and Imagination — Scott S. Phillips
I’m going to preface this review with the fact that I have never been a huge fan of short stories, which is what makes up this compilation that border on the bizarre. But despite the nature of Phillips’ offbeat collection, I like the fact that he introduces each one with how it connected to his actual real life. I suppose I relate to his writing on that level because I do the same thing when I write more literary, creative fiction pieces.
I’m sure someone is going to accuse me of burying the lede in one of my reviews someday and they’d be totally right. So here goes. Phillips’ stories, as I’ve already established, focus on some themes from his own life, while others are purely fiction. But all of them ARE fiction — from man-eating aliens to a modern-day Neanderthal learning to embrace his unibrow.
A couple of the stories involve supernatural elements such as in Stedman Eats It, where we are confronted with the corporeal spirits of forgotten childhood when the main character decides to “grow up” and ditch his comic books, among other geeky connections to his past. In contrast, in Uncertain Times at Uncle Fatty’s we follow an unfortunate time in the life of a group of circus folk, while To the Editors of Teen People delves into the boy band phenomenon.
Phillips writes everything with a sense of humor and a relateable voice, while each story involves some aspect of the human condition, be it alienation, insecurity, young lust or growing up even when you shouldn’t. Compile that all into a collection of short stories, and you have an interesting and unique read on your hands.
I never mentioned why I don’t like short stories; it’s because they’re too short! Same here, but after recently reading another short story collection I think my opinion is changing because I’m really beginning to like them, including this odd mix of tales.
You can find Tales of Misery and Imagination on Amazon for $9.99 in print and for $2.99 in the Kindle edition. Also, don’t miss my review of Phillips’ Pete, Drinker of Blood, which follows a pudgy, blue-collar worker and his life as a vampire. It’s great stuff!