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Bob Mayfield
2011: A Collection of Prose and Cons...
Bob Mayfield, author
Quirky, humorous stories, with occasional turns of intrigue, poignancy, and satire.
Mayfield (The Lime Green Jello That Ate Portland) ponders the power of words in this lively offering. The collection starts, fittingly, with a study on the evolution of short stories, lamenting the passing of their iconic status in satirical form “The Short Story is survived by Facebook, Twitter, texting, and a lingering sense of foreboding”—and playfully continues that trend, musing on idle pleasures as well as the weightier topics of relationship ups and downs, the meaning of life, and more. Mayfield uses humor throughout to impress upon readers the potential fallout to being a writer: “The problem with knowing a writer is, you might get written about.”

Readers who enjoy quirky introspections will be entertained. In “Writer Rampage,” small town residents are shocked to discover their secrets spilled across the page by a pseudonymous author, resulting in a general sense of paranoia as they go about their daily business, and “Buck” draws a spirited portrait of a colorful local character who regals bar mates with stories of his overseas military service, only to end up facing down an unexpected—and peculiar —opponent. Mayfield even pays tribute to writer’s block in “The Artist Addresses His Muse,” which finds an author railing against editor-imposed deadlines while “staring at a glowing blank sheet of screen, not a word oozing out.”

Though Mayfield covers substantive topics, the highlight is the tongue-in-cheek style running throughout —“That’s All, Folks!” is a clear play on acknowledgments, with a nod to the literary genius required to craft a cohesive story from a ragtag collection of notes and cryptic jottings. Mayfield repeats main characters, giving the collection continuity, and threads their perspectives into several pieces. Readers will enjoy both the tidy endings and those sections left open to interpretation. Despite sporadic moments of gravity, readers should come prepared for plenty of laughs—and even an eye roll here and there.

Takeaway: A quirky, entertaining celebration of the power of words and the reality of being a writer.

Great for fans of: Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals, Beth Lisick’s This Too Can Be Yours.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A-