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Jenny on the Street: And Other Tales of Reverence and Revolution by a Very…

by David Haldane

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
NOTE: I won a free eBook copy of this book in MOBI format from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers (January 2021).

In this volume of short stories, Haldane walks readers through semi-autobiographical vignettes and sketches brief, disturbing tales of horror and astonishment. The former set ("Time") opens a window into the bygone era of the mid-20th Century, while the latter ("Space") unsettles and leaves more questions than answers. I commend Haldane on mastering the short story form: his prose is mesmerizing yet straightforward.

Here are my reactions to each individual story:
"The Sun's Trumpeter:" A nice story about how an adolescent with autism chose to grow.
"The Last Clarinet Lesson:" I don't remember my last music lesson, but I know it wasn't as story-worthy as this one.
"The Sergeant:" Toxic masculinity is toxic.
"Jenny on the Street:" An affair from start to finish, that ends before it can truly begin.
"Israel Would Take You in, Wouldn't It?:" This hits differently during the latest round of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Offers a great perspective. Should be recommended reading for all humans.
"The Initiation:" An interesting take on the inner machinations of the Boomers and their protests.
"The Tortoise and the Hair:" The shortest story so far; I felt like the prose had gotten a haircut, too.
"The Orange Jar:" Kind of feels like an episode of "The Twilight Zone," with a commentary on aging.
"The Good Samaritan:" Were any of them good, really?
"Social Justice:" Eat the rich.
"Private Affair:" Or two.
"The Crevice:" Seeing is believing.
"The Narrow Cylinder:" An appropriate pick for the final tale in this collection. Familiar, yet unexpected and discomfiting . . . ( )
  msoul13 | Jun 16, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
From the Preface: "Disclaimer David didn't write these stories [they were] composed by his much younger self. They mirror the modern age in which the line between reality and fantasy has become increasingly blurred". In this book, much too blurred for me.

I will start with a couple of synopses:

The Sun's Trumpeter
Sean's an unusual child, strangely aloof, raised by his grandfather. Sean saw a gleaming trumpet in a pawn shop, grandfather got it for him. Sean would leave the house early, march toward the ocean, played Reveille at precisely sunrise. He was the sun's trumpeter (sun not capitalized, our star has a proper name, it is Sol). That's it.

The Last Clarinet Lesson
In first person, boy goes for weekly clarinet lesson from Mr Palin, in a den that smelled like cork grease, something that makes him and other clarinetists sway. [Well, I haven't noticed that. Violinists sway.] One day he went in for a lesson and "Mr & Mrs Palin [were sitting] on the on the couch, blurry-eyed and red-nosed". Mr Palin says "shit down and worm up". Mr Palin becomes bombastic, eventually sobbed. End of story, end of lessons.

Both of these stories were not enjoyable for me to read. In fact, when I finished EVERY short story in the book I felt the same. The whole book was a waste of my time. I read it all the way through because LibraryThing wants me to do that with a free book and I am happy to oblige. It's just that I want a short story to be enjoyable, delightful.

That's the end of my review for this book but I would like to point out some of the misuses of words by this former journalist. First, in short story "Jenny on the Street: "[I noticed a] peacock feather careening out of her hat". What! Sorry David, you are way off the mark. Definition of careen from Oxford: v. North American no object, with adverbial of direction - move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction". Was the feather flying out of her hat? Jut, protrude, or sticking out are better choices.

Same story, he can't stop: "Stacks of old cardboard boxes careened dangerously away from the walls". Wrong again. The word is leaned. How about "her hands were thin as leaves. Tiny lines crept through them like miniature rivers". Or "She continued blowing onto the black surface of her coffee as if her breath were a breeze and coffee a lake". Must be very young David.

Others. "...guests arrived...the room dissipated into a hodgepodge". Finally [a camera] yanked on its leash. Wow! ( )
  dangnad | May 24, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Thirteen brilliant diverse fables that emanate intrigue and mystery.
From the first page of the first story the writer captivates you with his style of writing. Thereafter each story will lure you in with interest.
These stories are not just easy reading but will also make you feel the essence of what you have just read.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading these short stories and found them to be highly entertaining. ( )
  Lin_K | Apr 14, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This collection of stories and essays written by the author in his much younger years intrigued me. I greatly enjoyed and admired the first half, "Time." These recollections of the Sixties had an assured, authentic voice with many beautiful phrases, such as "disappearing into the ether that is the world" and "he was hissing at me like a broken gas line." I eagerly followed the narrator's treks as he hitchhiked through Europe, endured high school music lessons, suffered through the Army, was footloose but not fancy free. He describes this time as "when life was about movement" and "when you had no place to arrive at or return to," and I thought he hit the exact tone of sorrow that often lurked beneath what tried to appear carefree. The title story reveals multiple meanings to "Jenny on the street" as it filled me with dread. The second half, "Space," is much darker, containing shorter tales that feel less polished. These didn't appeal to me nearly as much, but, based on the first half, I would seek out David Haldane's memoir with relish. ( )
  AnaraGuard | Apr 4, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a wide ranging and varied set of well written stories. A little something for everyone. My favourite is the title story which captures the flavour of teenage travellers in the UK with an air of lost youth reminiscences. ( )
  Boand | Mar 24, 2021 |
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