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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 11/2019
  • 978--998687-8-0
  • 104 pages
  • $15
Ebook Details
  • 11/2019
  • 978--998687-9-7 B081J1JSBH
  • 104 pages
  • $2.99
Mostly True: Short Stories
In this potpourri of humorous, sometimes outrageous episodes involving actors, travelers, storytellers, madmen, hikers, hippies, flappers, boyfriends, cookies, castles, and credit cards, good intentions backfire. In The Livin' Doll, a dramatic senior lady joyfully entertains and engages a young girl, reliving her years as an actress, until she has a coiffure malfunction. Sixth grade boys believe they are too old for stories until the Storyteller turns into a witch with a fearsome cackle. Hippie Girls searching for Paradise in Hawaii instead meet madmen and steep inclines. A flapper generously trims the neckline of her dress and becomes Like Clara, the "It Girl" to catch a good-lookin' man at a dance, who turns out to be a mama's boy. An old woman goes in search of an elusive Almond Cookie in Chinatown, like the one she had 20 years ago and forgets where she parked her car. An elderly conscientious gent faces insomnia and unsympathetic groans from his dog as he tries to resolve the case of his compromised credit card. All the stories are based on true experiences. Don't say I didn't warn you...
Reviews
Cohen’s nuanced debut collection compiles 13 stories about people on intimate quests. “The Livin’ Doll” features an aging actress who coaches a five-year-old girl to tell her flattering things. Other older protagonists seeking relationships, recapturing past memories, or dealing with the difficulties of life are the mainstays of “Déjà Vu,” “The Almond Cookie,” “Time Lapse,” and “Card on the Loose.” The past comes to life in “Like Clara, the ‘It Girl,’ ” in which 1920s flapper Clara drags her husband to Las Vegas to get away from his controlling mother, and “The Free Spirit,” a story about a woman’s search for happiness in the hippie counterculture of 1973 Maui. The Aloha State is also the setting for “Hawaiian Girl,” “Depth Perception,” and several other stories in which women get vividly creative in their pursuit of better lives.

Cohen has crafted each story as a complete narrative, drawing on her experience as a dancer to add elements of theatricality and often centering the experiences of women who demand more than life readily offers them. Many of the stories also feature Jewish characters drawn with sympathy and humor. The plotting throughout is clear and concise, holding the reader’s attention. Some conclusions feel a little precipitous, as in “The Free Spirit,” but this doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the writing.

The character development is thorough and introspective, providing each character with a backstory sufficient to explain their motivation. In few words, Cohen draws her protagonists believably and realistically explores everyday events, such as Jane’s drug-induced haze in “The High Road” and Joe’s frustrations with debit card fraud in “Card on the Loose.” It’s a pleasure to read along as these characters trust their intuitions and seek their joy.

Takeaway: Any fan of short literary fiction will appreciate Cohen’s collection of thought-provoking, richly drawn narratives.

Great for fans of Alice Munro’s Runaway, Lauren Groff’s Florida.

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

Lynda Hiltner

"Some of these stories took me back to the 60's, a time I remember with fondness.  Each story was uniquely entertaining.  Great writing!" 

 

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 11/2019
  • 978--998687-8-0
  • 104 pages
  • $15
Ebook Details
  • 11/2019
  • 978--998687-9-7 B081J1JSBH
  • 104 pages
  • $2.99

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