Some months ago, I took it to myself to buy a number of local Las Vegas anthologies and novellas, wanting to support the authors of my hometown. The first that I read and reviewed, titled “Love in the Dunes” was a mixed bag- and I have found the same to be true of Writers Bloc 10. Still, I have a handful of stories to talk about. This novel of short stories was, for all intents and purposes, average. There were stories I enjoyed, and stories I was merely unimpressed by- and some that I skimmed in their entirety. Let me start with the ones who did not do quite so well in my eyes, so that I may end on a good note.
It’s actually the first story in the novel that caught my eye as one that was not enjoyable; Breath of Heaven by Thomas C. Bryant. This could be a personal preference, as I am not a religious person, but I just didn’t see why this story came first and the story of having a miracle baby was just not resonating with me. Similarly, I felt little to no interest with the very end of this book; the contest winning stories. I expected more from it, but I was left wondering what the runner ups were, or the others they chose from. I love that the group holds contests and such things, but I feel like the quality of the stories submitted for the contests were rather low. Many of the short stories in the end of the novel just couldn’t hold my attention.
This novel also had a few stories that were weird but good in the most unusual of ways. It stretched the creativity of writing to craft unique experiences in storytelling. The stories that come to mind, in this way, include Dave by Rick Newbury- a wacky drug story that shows a deeper message- and Dressed by Valerie J. Runyan- which was all over the place but was interesting and had a good ending.
Then there comes the stories that I believed stood out as quite decent. Clem’s Bar by Joe Van Rhyn had a fascinating history of a long standing family, featuring details of owning a bar during the Prohibition era. I absolutely loved Resilience by Keiko Moriyama, which pointed out the dark truths of what it was like to be a Japanese-American during the war- and the truth that America had prison camps, too. Then there was Soul For a Soul by Lori Piotrowski, which gives a fun take on vegetarianism. I particularly liked that one due to my own girlfriend being a vegetarian, finding it quite amusing. Not only that, but it seemed to be one of the most well written of the stories in this anthology. But above all, I believe The Royalle Life by Brandi Hoffman to be the best story here. I found it to be the most fun, the most well written, easy to follow and enjoy.
Like most anthologies, I can only judge the book overall on all the stories combined. I found enough worthwhile stories here to recommend it, though I only will give it a three. Overall, not outstanding- but decent enough to read some of the better stories.