I’ve recently become a big fan of C. S. Boyack (The Hat grabbed me, and Viral Blues sealed the deal). So when I had a chance to slip The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack to the top spot of my TBR pile, I did. A whole book of short stories from the twisted brain of C.S. Boyack? Yes please!
And I wasn’t disappointed.
As I’ve already said, this is a series of short stories – some only a page or two long – with a speculative flavour, covering everything from robots and sci-fi, to myhtological creatures like genies and dragons. Most of the stories have a delicious twist at the end, though some are more like mini novellas and focus on character development (ie, the Lisa Burton and Jason Fogg stories); characters that will later appear in other works by Boyack.
Some standout stories for me were “Jack O Lantern”, “50 Gallon Drum”, “Soup-Ladle of Destiny”, “Something in the Water”, and the Lisa Burton / Jason Fogg stories. “Jack O Lantern” was a short bite with an ending that made me caw “ha!” out loud. “Soup-Ladle of Destiny” is reminiscent of a Grimm Brothers tale. “Something in the Water” features another ‘character’ from “Viral Blues” (kind of), and is a truly satisfying short story. Boyack has a way of making you feel great empathy for a character in a really short amount of time.
The star though, for me, was “50 Gallon Drum”. I’ve always loved Boyack’s quirky stories, twisted humour, and interesting characters, but in “Drum” it really becomes apparent that boy, he can write. The phrasing is beautiful as the story meanders along, frequently tugging the heartstrings with each revelation, right up to the sucker-punch ending. This is one that will stay with me forever.
I can highly reccomend “The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack”, and I’ll be nudging Notebook II higher in my TBR pile I think!
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