Collected Stories: Selected tales and trifles, old and new
by Jonathan Land Evans

"Beyond that, I am inclined to blame gremlins and the known malevolence of the universe."

Evans, a widely published writer and retired lawyer from Bermuda, invites readers to peruse his diverse tales in a grand and hefty new collection of short stories. At nearly four hundred pages, there is much to select from among longer and shorter works (or “trifles”). Some stories are previously published elsewhere, while many stories are not. The title tells us this, while Evans also explains this volume “mixes the old and the new” and is the first of several planned forthcoming collections.

In “A visitor,” a woman’s happy vacation gets an “unexpected intrusion” by the unseen coupled with her private thoughts of “morbid whimsy” in an unnerving and menacing tale. “The ogre in his cave” centers on a widower with a trusty shotgun whose strange and daring newfound freedom unwittingly steers him toward depression. “Wild oats” is a humorous musing on the fascinating qualities and benefits of oatmeal. And in “A shade melancholic,” a prisoner strikes up a friendship with a lonely ghost. These are just some of the various stories found within this ambitious collection, where Evans explores solitude, identity, and place that make for compelling reading.

The author's tales are strange, unsettling, and funny. Some are merely a playful rumination of the ordinary, while others are more serious narratives. Though most short story collections are commonly pieced together by theme, Evans breaks the rules a bit, opening up a vault of works into one lengthy book that is not necessarily threaded by any one common theme. At times there appears to be no discernible separation between stories. Whether by choice or a practical matter of publication, it does make for wordy pages with a noticeable lack of much needed white space. Nevertheless, Evans is certainly an accomplished short story writer and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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