Cover Rating: Effective. Aside from the words “A Collection of Stories” being too difficult to read along the bottom, I found the cover fit the content quite nicely.
I will admit, I wasn’t really excited to read this book. I didn’t much enjoy the last short story collection I was asked to read and review, but I decided I would give this one a chance. So I purchased it for $.99 and gave it a chance. I’m glad I did. While I won’t say I loved this collection, I did find it very enjoyable and thought-provoking.
The Games You Cannot Win by author M.K. Williams is a collection of four short stories involving characters who are at odds with some circumstance beyond their immediate control. The first story follows Karla, the daughter of an aspiring writer who herself manages to make it big as a writer – at the cost of her creative freedom. She finds solace in the one part of her book her editor won’t mess with: the dedication. The second story is about a news reporter finding a scandal in a political election quite similar to one we currently had. The third story follows a Supreme Court Justice who is caught up in a supposed scandal from her past. The last story follows the ex-boyfriend of a now-famous author who is haunted by the belief that he will appear as a villain in her latest book.
As in every collection of short stories, there is always one that is clearly the author’s favorite. In this collection, the author’s baby is definitely Escaping Avila Chase, the fourth and final story in the collection.
The author was impeccably detailed in her delivery of these four stories. She either drew from personal experience for all of these stories or did a remarkably thorough job of her research. Each one read as if written by a seasoned professional in whichever field they worked in, from an author to an FBI agent to a Supreme Court Justice. I found this refreshing and informative. Some of my favorite sections were those in which the characters got lost in their work, describing in minute detail what they did and how they did it.
Each of the stories had something to say about our modern days, some of them touching, some of them disheartening, but each deeply thought-provoking. I found that I could only read one story a day. I would then need a good ten hours or so between each story to ponder and mull over all of the implications. If that is not effective writing, I don’t know what is.
Pros: The author’s attention to detail was admirable. I was pulled into the settings she established and completely believed that the author knew exactly what she was talking about. In the theater world, we call a character’s fidgeting and simple movements their “business.” This author did a great job of showing her character’s business.
Cons: This collection as a whole needed a good final proofreading. I found quite a few typos and misspelled words, including one in the author’s note. I found enough of them to bother me. I also very nearly skipped the first story, believing that it actually was the dedication. This feels really weird for me to say about short stories, of which I usually want more, not less, but a couple of these stories really dragged at points. I actually nodded off in the middle of one because it was taking too long for anything significant to happen.
Favorite Quote: “She was a femme fatale with creative license, and she was sharpening her pen just for me.”