Autumn Paths – An Anthology of Short Stories
It is always interesting when a group of authors contribute to an anthology that goes on to have some genuine riches. The only theme that links these nine stories, each one a success in terms of exposing some truth or insight, is autumn. The writers are a group from both sides of the Atlantic called “Seasonal Collective”. While here in Britain we are presently a long way from our season of Autumn, this collection of stories can be read and enjoyed at any time, as often autumn is a motif, a metaphor that does not define the story, but adds greatly to its richness. This book contains nine stand alone stories, one or two refer to characters who appear in other writings by the author concerned, but no prior knowledge of anyone’s work is required. These stories undoubtedly act as a taster for the work of the author responsible, but are never merely a trailer but are fully formed tales in their own right. Each story is followed by a short biography of the author, which is useful rather than relegating such details to the back of the book.
As always with a short story that works for the reader, it is necessary to include something of the setting, the context, the characters and a satisfying resolution to a narrative that holds together. As a reader of short stories I found each of these demands were met in the stories in this volume, and I was successfully whisked to and from various places and even times by each writer. Accordingly I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this Anthology.
The first story by Sandra Bunting looks at how life can shape people and how they can shape their own lives and adventures over decades. Pierre C. Arseneault looks at how a sense of place can affect one’s perspective of a life. Chuck Bowie takes two established characters and places them in close proximity to see what happens in an action packed story that contains surprises. S.C. Eston writes of a world dominated and defined by technology with references to a natural world of leaves and human feelings. Angela Wren, in my favourite story of books and secrets in France, develops the idea of a relationship through a hunt for the unknown. “The Maze” by Monique Thebeau looks at the relationships between adults and children when life can seem desperate. A very different setting and outcome is explored in a post apocalypse land of “Winter Tar” by Jeremy Thomas Gilmer. Another favourite is the story of curious children in “Warriors and Trickery” by Allan Hudson which looks at the dynamics of serious play and surprising adults. The final story, “Path to Nowhere” by Angella Cormier has an inner dynamic and surprises for the unwary reader.
Thus this is a collection of mainly contemporary stories that have much to say about the human condition in sometimes extreme circumstances as well as less dramatic but no less effective situations. It is a fascinating Anthology with some very individual perspectives expressed, and altogether it is a powerful read.