In this collection of 24 short stories, writer Tom Ward drops us into a world of love, death and dancing. Though held together by the book’s general theme (pooches and broken hearts), the subject matter ranges from Parisian cabaret and a house disturbed by the ghostly presence of Norman Mailer, to a predatory sports master and an intern frantic for the latest craze in magazine literature. Ward presents a fascinating mix of delicate prose and unconventional narratives that tackles relationships head on and doesn’t take any prisoners.
Reading this series of diverse tales, I was aware that some, such as ‘The Sweetest Meat’, and ‘A Walk in the Park’ were well crafted and clever, though a little predictable in their structure. Others however, like the haunting ‘Glass Flowers’ with its lyrical, almost poetical style, and the ridiculous but witty ‘The Intern and The Exploding Magazine’, made me think this guy really knows what he’s doing.
There are many masters of the short story form whose work occasionally has me wracking my brains as to the actual point of their tales. Similarly, a few of Mr Ward’s narratives finished abruptly, leaving me wondering if I’d missed something. One or two even had me thinking they’d been written by someone else, but maybe that’s the point. Tom Ward clearly has a ton of talent and I’ll be very interested to see what he offers up next.