Alistair Moore 2022
From a talking monkey to a talking vagina, Alistair Moore presents the reader with short stories that are part social commentary, part character study, and part dystopian fantasy, in varying degrees.
Other readers, and even the author, may disagree, but the most profound takeaway for this reviewer is this sentence: “Everything I’d been blessed with, I’d taken from another man.” You’ll have to read the collection for yourself to discover which story contains this statement. For the character who articulates it, the sentiment is actually true, but isn’t it true for all of us in part, even if only metaphorically? We live in a world of finite resources and infinite want.
Moore leads off with “Save the Future,” about a highly publicized debate that asks the question (in essence): where has humanity gone wrong to reach our present state of affairs? I looked forward to the proposed debate between two schools of philosophy rather than two political ideologies, and I felt the same sense of disappointment as in real life, when a debate of the issues degraded into a mudslinging free-for-all. Sound familiar? This was nicely done.
When reviewing a short story collection, I take into account the overall assortment; do the stories work well together, thanks either to a unifying theme or to a selection that is not repetitive to the point of redundancy? The outcome is so much better when an author or editor builds a collection with careful attention to the way each story complements the group. Alistair Moore has curated this collection beautifully, creating a pleasantly diverse reading experience.
This is not to say that the stories are diverse in every sense of the word. Every protagonist is male, and the few females that are more than incidental are either love interests or (sometimes talking) genitalia with human beings incidentally attached to them. The quality of the writing and literary merit of the stories is not necessarily lessened, but if you’re looking for short stories that feature fully developed, multi-faceted female characters, you won’t find them in this collection.
Regardless, this is an engaging selection and worth your time if you’re ready for a brief vacation from reality.
Thank you to the author and to Reedsy Discovery for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.