No, you don't need to adjust your sets. The Internet is not broken, and nor is your computer/tablet/phone. I really am reviewing my...

Book Review: Everything Around Me is Destroyed or Damaged, Aaron Kane Heinemann

No, you don't need to adjust your sets. The Internet is not broken, and nor is your computer/tablet/phone. I really am reviewing my own book.

It has been almost 4 years, you see, since I wrote and self-published my first short story collection on Amazon, and almost that long since I've read it. In that time, my writing style and habits have changed, and my opinions on many of the authors I used to love (whose work heavily influenced my own) have changed too. So, now that I've published the book in paperback for the first time, I thought I'd read it again, and take an honest look at the writing, and what I'd do differently if I were to turn back time.

I've changed a lot since I wrote this book, too. I've had a couple of very anxious episodes and I've met the love of my life and I've finished the best unpublished novel I've ever written. So, really, it's best if we all think of it like I'm reviewing a book written by a total stranger.

So let's do that.

Everything Around Me is Destroyed or Damaged is a collection of 23 short stories by half-arsed blogger Aaron Kane Heinemann. It starts, as lots of mediocre books do, with something to shock us and grab our attention - a story of bloodshed and defecation in an office environment. And to be fair, that one is quite amusing, so I can forgive the cheap trick.

From then on, we're treated to stories about a range of topics from drink and self-loathing to regret and romance. The only trouble, in my opinion, is that the quality varies just as widely as the content.

There are stories that are just fine, and from which you might come away feeling like you've read the work of someone who understands and cares about people quite deeply, and has a grip on writing that is above average. Examples of these are The Harshness of Life, Alley Dogs and An Imagined Affair.

Then there are stories that are a bit sillier, clearly not intended to be as deep or serious, and are therefore - excusably - a little lower quality (Saved, Town Hall, The Slightest Hint of Moisture). That's okay, they're still enjoyable, and we can't all be pretentious and amazing 24x7, no matter how hard we try.

The stories I have a problem with are the ones that don't fit into either of the above categories. The ones that aren't written well enough to blow you away, but aren't entertaining enough to excuse the dip in quality. Stories like Against Nature, and maybe Watch This. I know why the author wanted to have 23 stories in there - because he thinks it's a cool number - but filling it out with stories that shouldn't have made the cut isn't the way to go about that. If it were me, I would wait, write some more, delay the book if necessary, to make sure I had 23 solid stories, instead of allowing the average rating to be dragged down by a couple of low-scoring borefests. It's a shame he didn't think like that.

But I do have one more good thing to say. There are a couple of stories - namely, Note to a Former Lover and Reliving the Future - which are very obviously about the author's previous relationships, and the regrets he has about them. The impulse, when reading these insights into his past and the way he feels about it, is to feel like it's all a bit too raw, a massive overshare, and cringe away; but I think that's a good thing. Writing has to be about truth, about real traumas that real people go through, even when it's dressed up as fiction. That's how you make readers feel things and make them think about life. And these stories do that, without a doubt. Even if they are a bit… too much. And not that well written.

So, when you add it all up and divide it by the number of stories, I think you have an alright collection, here. Not the worst self published material out there, by any means. Probably worth the 99p or whatever Amazon is charging for it. Definitely worth downloading during one of its rare free download promotions.

But it's not world-changing, either. Personally, I wouldn't want this to be the first book I ever published, giving people less-than-incredible blackmail material to drag out and parade around when I was famous and celebrated for being an amazing author. It'd make me look too human, like I'm not perfect after all. Ew.

You may also like

No comments: