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Things Falling Apart by J. W. Schnarr

Things Falling Apart

by J. W. Schnarr

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2.5/5 Stars

Received via Good Reads First Reads giveaway.

This is a very, very dark set of stories, some good, others not so good, some were very difficult to get through (and not because of the content, but rather the writing).

There were a few stories that should have ended way before they did, and others that seriously suffered from a lack of plot development - but first and foremost I think the stories could have done with stronger editing. There were stories with promise that lead nowhere, and some that were rambling and unfocused that should have been tightened a lot more.

The writing was more often than not stilted and wooden, not allowing me to delve into the actual story. There was too much thrown in out of the blue that was meant to add to the story, but instead seemed like an explanation thought of at the last moment in order to give reason to what was going on. The logic of the worlds didn't necessarily flow, and it was asking too much of the reader to suspend disbelief that much.

Honestly, most of the stories I've already forgotten. There are a few that stick out in my mind, either because they either fell on the good/not good end of the spectrum.

First we'll start with the stories I liked:
Dredging Up The Dead - interesting idea, but cut way too short. This story suffered from what a few others in the collection did; it felt like the author was told they were too long and cut out big swaths of story, sacrificing plot for length.
Survival of the Fattest - this story is truly horrifying, and the one that stuck the most in my mind. It made my stomach turn and was just the right length. Probably the best in the whole collection in my mind.
Magpie - I liked the idea, but wish there was more actual story, rather than just smashing to THE ENDING.
Dorothy Of Kansas - This one is the end of Oz, and while I generally don't like stories based on works of others, this one worked up until Scarecrow and Tin Man made it to Kansas - the rest of it seemed rather extraneous, and didn't add to the story. The mood and setting of Tin Man and Scarecrow before they hit Kansas was atmospheric and wonderful, however.
The Terrible Things We Dream In Sleep - a great idea, not sure it was executed completely, but still a good idea. This was one that could have been expanded upon but were cut short.
Song Of The Dead - Another great idea that seemed to suffer from lack of execution. The idea that a grandson is taking care of his aging grandfather suffering from dementia of some sort during the zombie apocalypse is such a unique idea, but it was completely dropped for the quick wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am ending. Really unfortunate, because if that relationship had been explored it probably would have been an amazing story.

The ones I really didn't enjoy:
Sunlight and Shadows - just absolutely dragged on and on, I felt like it'd never end. There were silly explanations for what was happening, and the characters were wooden and unbelievable.
The Tongue Child - completely did not fit at all in with the other stories in this collection. Completely out of the blue, and I found a rather ridiculous premise. I'm not even sure what the point was at all.
The Children of the Golden Day - another one that could have been a good story except for the rambling plot, wooden dialogue, and asking the reader to suspend too much disbelief. If we're to believe a whole town is wiped off the face of the Earth, don't set it in the modern day. And don't give me explanations on children having fluid DNA. It was just too far-fetched that nobody noticed this town got demolished two weeks ago and nobody notices. The main character's progression didn't ring true to me either, and came off as unbelievable.

As I said, the rest of the stories I've already mostly forgotten. I wanted to like these stories more, I really did, and I think with a bit more hard editing some of them could have really been spectacular. ( )
  xitomatl | Apr 8, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I typically love short stories, and Poe and Lovecraft have a special place in my heart, so I was fully expecting to devour this collection in a couple of days.

Yeah, that didn't happen. In fact, after the first three or four stories, I found I was having to force myself to sit down and read. So I stopped reading this title about halfway through. I tried to finish it. I wanted to finish it. But I just couldn't do it. Life is too short to read bad books.

Mr. Schnarr's subject matter isn't so much shocking as it is revolting and, often times, stupid. Now I have no issues with controversial or disturbing imagery and plot lines so long as it is justified by characterization. In "Survival of the Fattest," for example, a fat man decides to super glue his lips around a straw in an effort to lose weight. Such a stupid decision needs rather significant justification in the characterization. But it's just not there. The focus of the story isn't on the desperation revolving around such a decision, but rather the gruesome results of the decision. And without that justification, that characterization, the entire story becomes gratuitous and falls apart around itself.

The publisher's description compares Schnarr with Poe and Guy de Maupassant, but that couldn't be further from the case. Poe's work, specifically, mirrored human nature and commented on both individual and societal conditions. Mr. Schnarr's apparent focus throughout all of the stories (the ones I managed to make it through, anyway) seemed to be on disturbing (and often disgusting) imagery. From prison rape to cannibalism, his goal seems to be to shock the reader and elicit a response of "ewwww" without justification and without making any kind of thematic statement. The end result is a collection of stories with ridiculous premises and gratuitous imagery that is little more than an attempt to gross the reader out.

Things Falling Apart is a title to be avoided. ( )
  RobbFlynn | Aug 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I quite enjoyed this collection although some of the stories were stronger and more disturbing than others. I though the author seemed particularly obsessed with food but it made for entertaining reading even though it was cringe-worthy. I don't think the author is quite in the Poe league with some of the stories a bit tedious but overall I think it well worth reading. ( )
  Heptonj | Aug 7, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As this is a collection of short stories with a multitude of characters, I found it quite hard to decide on a rating. I ended up rating it 3/5 because some stories were awesome, some were disturbing, and some were lame. I won’t go through all of the stories, but here are some that made an impact on me:

Survival of The Fattest – This is a story about an obese man who is desperate to lose weight, so he does something beyond stupid – it would make the Darwin files. The story isn’t necessarily gore but it has the same “eww” feeling that makes you want to shower away the disgusting images. These stories don’t abide by ordinary limits – this is the darkest side of humanity. If you like dark – and it’s even too dark for me in some of the short stories – than you’d like this. Otherwise, do not read. Don’t even peek.

Warning – These stories contain gore, zombies, child death, prison rape, racist remarks, obscene language and everything else most writers are too scared to pen.

Black Water – This is a story about a woman trying to cope with a death of a child. Definitely sad.

Magpie – This is a story about a woman with weird pregnancy cravings. The ending was HORRIBLE. I don’t mean this as bad. I mean that it made me want to go wake my child from a nap and cuddle him close because this story gave me such bad mojo. This story hit my limit. There are certain things that I don’t like to read about or even think about. If you have children, I would skip this story.

Froggie – I thought was pretty stupid. Its a “What if?”. What if the video game Frogger was real? Not scary, creepy, or much of anything.

The War Within – A burn victim fights the demons within as the doctors struggle to save her body on the outside. I thought it was weird. Definitely science fiction instead of horror. ( )
  erlessard | Aug 2, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I wish I could give you a deep analysis of this collection of stories, something erudite and witty. I'm afraid I can't. Not because there's anything wrong with the book, but because there's just not much that can be said.

This title did exactly what I wanted it to do. It was creepy and unsettling, the author clearly has a thing about food and eating (something we all need to do so there's a lot of prime material there). Not every story was a winner, but most of them were enjoyable. Honestly, my biggest problem was the e-pub thing, and that's no fault of the book. I'd say it's worth at least three dollars.
  ErisAerie | Jul 26, 2012 |
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In this collection of 21 short stories, J.W. Schnarr writes very much in the tradition of classic greats such as Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant, but with a completely modern, fresh voice. With Schnarr it's not so much about gore and splatter, as it is about sliding like a scalpel inside your head and lodging there. His characters are believable, ordinary people who are hurtled into horrific situations, sometimes of their own making whether through love or stupidity, sometimes not.
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Five Rivers Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Five Rivers Publishing.

Editions: 1927400031, 192740004X

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