The Acorn Stories

The Acorn Stories, an e-book written and copyright by Duane Simolke. (If the title or content of this book seem vaguely familiar to the prospective reader, the book reportedly was first published as an e-book by White Knight Publishing in 1998, in paperback by iUniverse in 1999 with a second edition in paper and hardcover and “This Kindle version with only minor revisions” was published in 2007.)

The book presents the reader with a parade of vignette-like tales from the lives of dwellers in and near the fictional town of Acorn, Texas, USA, POP: 21,000. These slices depict the lives of this West Texas town’s ‘owning’ families, and some ‘other’ individuals all set forth in 15 chapters, with the last somewhat melting the divergent characters into a somewhat dysfunctional/functional whole. The dialogue is credible, as are the characters as the action swings from an opening about two who never can reach a level of compatibility, another as he ruminates about his parental problems while swimming laps in a pool, and then goes on to describe the problems faced by a deaf, gay teacher for special children who now is teaching English in this small ‘backwoods’ town, a couple of black citizens, an advanced Alzheimer sufferer, a despicable mayor, his wife, a young woman with prominent Attention Deficit Disorder, and more.

Discussion: The author has provided a group of characters to populate this little western town who either are native born and wishing to escape or are persons wishing to escape from the world. Some are pathetic, some humorous, some irritating, some are easier to equate with than others, and all are somewhat unusual as their often self-generated problems and actions are set forth. The author demonstrates a healthy understanding of human nature.

4* Empathetic presentation of an unusual group of small-town residents.

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse ISBN: 9781491791844 iUniverse, an e-book written and copyright by Peter Quinones.

This is a collection of several short stories, a discussion of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and ruminant discussions on several authors’ books and/or movies. The first two stories, The Fizz Notorio and Rumor People, relate tales of a somewhat nondescript, mismatched man and woman with a relationship that begins nowhere and ends in similar fashion. The third ‘Burn Series’, is another unusual tale of a serious minded woman, her lush but beautiful sister and the two wealthy ‘boys’ she drunkenly brings back to the apartment of her sister whom she is visiting. It also begins from nowhere and ends similarly These three have elements of humor and appear to be provided to present the author’s desire to project underlying thoughts that he sets forth in later discussions in the book. In ‘The Exousia’, fourth of the short stories, characters named Elisabetta De La Real, businessman Hayzahoona and similar are involved in an ironically described police investigation of an unsolvable murder. The fifth, Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (I) presents a large number of unrelated, often inane and crude remarks. Chap 6, Notes on Macbeth – posthumously left behind by an undistinguished scholar quotes: “The grandmaster of Shakespeareans, Spurgeon – a mean, cruel and petty man (reviewer’s?) very out of his depth” and there follows a most interesting discussion/comments on the play’s acts and scenes one by one. The author then provides pros and cons on Polanski’s film production of Macbeth, Casson’s 1978 Royal Shakespeare Company’s theater-in-the-round production, Jack Gold’s interpretation for BBC Shakespeare series in the 1980’s, Rupert Gold’s 2009 film and sneaks in some comments on Kenneth Branagh’s 1988 production of Twelfth Night for the Thames Shakespeare Collection. These are followed by a statement and comments of why he believes the Bard’s comedies are much stronger than his tragedies before returning to the often referred to as endless discussion of Macbeth’s witches before returning to the Polanski production and still other comparisons. Chapter 7 Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (II) Self-indulgent metafiction with notes, starts the reader with a story about Monica who has work completed for her PhD in film studies with only the dissertation left, which concerns Sam Peckinpah. She in anorexic, vomits after each meal and is not particularly noteworthy as described before she departs while calling back to her house mate that Nogs Berga, nicknamed “petite conical breasts” after a ‘hilarious remark’ he had made in a gathering, is arriving. This is followed by discussion of various aspects of some well-known and little known movies and delivers pros and cons of what the directors were attempting and whether they did or did not project these ideas, generally speaking. Included are words about the importance of visual images, both as presented and what they might conjure up, AND the need to understand what the author and filmmaker is attempting to say. Included are words with respect to Irwin Shaw’s 1969 Rich Man, Poor Man, another of Ross Macdonald’s Wycherley woman (1961) and more

This is an unusual book with a strange range of subjects. Short stories in which the author presumably has provided hidden thoughts (that regrettably escape this reader) for the reader to ponder are included along with discussions about authors and filmmakers that are quite knowledgeable and interesting. Most prominent are those with respect to Shakespearean plays – these latter particularly enjoyed for this reviewer who many years ago studied the Bard under a former student of George Lyman Kittredge, the celebrated Harvard Shakespearean professor, who along with the above mentioned Caroline Spurgeon, no doubt were the Elizabethan’s most notable scholars.

Conclusion: A somewhat weird collection that provides quite knowledgeable serious discussions along with short stories that some readers may find somewhat distasteful, but containing components of humor along with purported hidden elements that should offer interesting speculation for a certain strata of readers.

3*    5 to 2* range actually, depending, upon reader’s level of interest, as described.