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Monday, April 30, 2012

Finding Diamonds in an Anthology


 One of the reasons why I love anthologies is because they can be surprising.  When I decided to review A Calm Whisper for The Bookplex, I didn't know what to expect.

There were several strong and skillfully written stories in this anthology. “Juliet” is a haunting tale about an angst-ridden doctor that turned out to have been authored by a rather talented seventeen year old. Also worthy of mention is “Stripes and Lollipops”, a powerhouse of a story about a young graffiti artist sentenced to community service, and “The Price”, a dark fantasy tale written in a lush poetic style that contained mordant social commentary.

Other stories seemed less successful.  “My Heart Beats For You” was written with a great deal of authentic emotion, but it lacked credibility. I can’t imagine how a doctor would agree without hesitation to commit a serious crime that should have resulted in the loss of his medical license.  I thought that the protagonist in “Annabeth” changed too abruptly at the end of the story.  “That Day” should have been powerful, but the author needed to do better medical research.  If he had, it would have impacted the storyline. I found “All That We Are” inspirational, but I felt that I needed an explanation for a character that appeared near the close of the narrative.  Some readers might be content to wonder about him, but I wanted to know the truth.  “Epiphany” was stylistically beautiful, but I would have liked to have seen more context.

Many of the poems faltered in their rhythm, had forced rhymes or seemed to be lacking in original expression, but I thought that “Empty Your Heart” was a nearly flawless gem.  It literally gave me chills each time I read it. I wished there had been more samples of this particular poet’s work.

 I liked a number of these art works, but the one that stood out for me was the surrealistic “Dream”.   I thought it was an authentic portrayal of dream experience.  I liked the blending of the images, and the way the dreamer was integrated into the whole.

Most anthologies vary in quality, and this one was no exception to the rule.  Yet I was glad to discover new writers and artists within the pages of A Calm Whisper whose work I will want to encounter again.


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