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Byzantium: Stories by Ben Stroud
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Byzantium: Stories

by Ben Stroud

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A collection of short stories, originally published elsewhere but gathered into this anthology. Quality ranges from the superb title story--no wonder the reader is teased by it into reading the others--to the so-so or unpleasant. The title of the collection is deceptive--times and settings range from 7th century Constantinople, New Spain, 19th century Germany and America and on to present day. The overarching theme was that of a "dream" and either fulfillment or failure and how the protagonist dealt with the outcome, depending upon the story. Human emotion and reactions to circumstances are laid bare. Writing was sharp and incisive.

My favorites:
the titular "Byzantium": a nobleman with a withered hand seeks to preserve the throne of the then-reigning monarch, Emperor Heraclius from a rival.
"Borden's Meat Biscuit": a failed inventor.
"The traitor of Zion": the protagonist discovers a utopia is really not so perfect after all.
"Tayopa": the search for a silver mine in a remote area of Mexico
"The Don's Cinnamon" and "The Moor": cases of a 19th century mulatto detective in Cuba and in Germany. ( )
  janerawoof | Jul 8, 2016 |
Although the stories in Tyler native Ben Stroud’s impressive debut collection Byzantium span the globe and 14 centuries in their settings, Stroud often sticks close to this universal theme of restless young men yearning for a chance in life — at love, fortune or power. This is true whether the narrator is coming of age in the Byzantine Empire or in contemporary East Texas.
added by ozzer | editDallas News, JENNY SHANK (Aug 2, 2013)
 
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Historical reimaginings are cleverly intertwined with contemporary stories to reveal startling truths about human nature across the centuries in this stunning debut collection that brings to life ancient cities and fallen empires.

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