I try to find stuff for you that you might not find on your own. Sometimes I bring you the big stuff, like “Doctor Sleep” or “Gravity” but I prefer to make finds like I did with the musical work of Leah Finkelstein. Now, I bring you one of the most exciting, interesting and thought-provoking books I have read in years, and definitely one of the best for this year.
I am speaking of “Not From Around Here,” a new book by a relatively new author, Larry Hochwald. You may have seen Larry’s work before, because he was publishing regularly online, until last year, when he started to seriously work on this book.
On the surface, Not From Around Here, is a collection of fiction that spans horror, fantasy, humor, literary, contemporary and science fiction genres. However, it is more than just a collection of exciting and surprising stories. There are several threads and themes that run throughout and, without providing a spoiler, I can tell you that it all comes together.
It starts, innocently enough, with a story called “Best Friend”. By the end of that story I was hooked. I was surprised by what happened, but also by my reaction. I was crying at the end of the story, and that was to happen 3 more times while I read the book.
Now, I read short stories and I love good ones, but I’m not a big fan of collections in general. Why? There are two reasons for this, though I am very pleased to say that Not From Around Here avoids both pitfalls. One reason I skip short stories collections is when they are filled with stories that are only slice of life. You come into a scene, you live it, and then you leave, without anything finishing. Thankfully, all of these are satisfying and complete stories, more like mini-novels, in that they are complex tales with a beginning, middle and end.
The other reason I often avoid short fiction collections is, sometimes, I find the quality of the stories becomes inconsistent in the middle of the book. They start with their best, and try to end on a high note, but the middle feels like filler, as does a lot of the content on many a CD. Fortunately, this book hold up very well, with some of the most inventive, surprising and visual stories right in the middle of the book.
A handful of the stories have been published previously, and in fact, my first brush with the work of Larry Hochwald was a read of the second story of this collection, “The Placebo Effect”. Now, even those previously published stories have been polished and , in some cases, added to, so even though ire ad this one I was happy to read it again. This story is one of the most gripping I have ever read and I found there are comments all across the internet from people who back this up. One commenter recommended the story saying, in effect, “I don’t even like to read but I loved this one!” This story is an action packed thriller with an ending I couldn’t predict. In fact, that’s a hallmark of most of these---“WOW” endings that you just can’t predict.
One of the most surprising stories was the 4th story, “Join the Club”, which I've already excerpted here on this site. I already called it “50 Shades meets The Shining”;not explicit though, but in mature theme. I have to tell you, I don’t find much writing truly scary, and almost no short stories ever rise to that occasion, but this was the scariest story I have ever read!”
Now, I could keep going in detail story by story, but that seems a bit too much. It is hard for me to choose favorites because I really enjoyed every story, and there were no disappointments. “Faker” was a twist I’ve never seen before. “Mirrors” was a very original vision turning the nature of some beliefs upside down. “Revelation” had some remarkable twists and I've seen some readers have said they haven’t seen that caliber of surprise since “The Sixth Sense”, and I can’t disagree! “Wall” and “Desolation Lovers” were two visual stories that I think would make great movies, and, “Old Ways” could be anything from a great adventure movie to a series of novels. “Mother’s Nature” and “When this War Began” are two very special, touching and very effective stories. Some stories just flat out freaked me out, and I would list “OCD”, Carpet Shock” and “The Group” in that category. “A Present For Mikey” was a very short horror story that I had the bad fortune of someone tapping me on the shoulder just at the climax. And “Almost Home” was one of those where I cried at the end.”
There are laughs in just about every story, many laughs in several of them, such as “Fur and Loathing” and, ironically, “Join the Club”. This book is like a roller coaster ride and I can’t remember enjoying a book, of any type, this much in quite a while, and in my entire life there are only a handful of short story collections that I enjoyed as much as this.
I think this is a wonderful first book, and launches Larry Hochwald into the literary world in a very enjoyable, exciting, thought-provoking and convincing way. The price of entry, for 18 stories (totaling274 pages in the paperback) if you read the ebook is an incredible bargain at only $2.99! The paperback is a very reasonable $12.99. You can get the book at Amazon, by clicking here . The paperback should be available by November 18th. You will find it on Amazon, or you can ask for it at your local bookstore.
If you like to read, you need to read this book. If you don’t like to read, you should read this book…it will get you hooked on reading. Enjoy!
Now, want more good news? The author, Larry Hochwald, wants to help us celebrate our review, and upcoming author interview. So, we will be giving away 5 Kindle ebooks and 5 choices of ebook or paperback during the next week. To enter, just send an email to my blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject put NFAH Free Giveaway. The ebooks will be given as gifts from Amazon so you need an email used for an Amazon account that you should write into the body of the email. Kindle ebooks can be read by most devices with a free Kindle reader app for your appropriate device, downloaded from Amazon. If the ebook option doesn't work for you, or you only want a paperback, you must say that in the body of the email, along with an address to send the paperback if you win. To choose a paperback you must live in the contiguous 48 states. Our blog will be hosting the giveaway. We will print out each entry email, fold them all up exactly the same, put them in a pouch and observe as the author draws out the winning entries.