Artefacts and Other Stories (Rebecca Burns)

Artefacts and Other Stories is a short story collection by Rebecca Burns.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 3.10.2018

Artefacts and Other Stories is a decent short story collection. It’s not amazing, but there are some good stories in there. The collection could have profited from a little more variation between stories and a little more narrative within the stories. But mostly, it’s okay.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

The Dandelion

Monica’s daughter Rachel is planning to go to Paris, a decision that is as much of a mystery to Monica as it worries her. So she decided to take the train with her and bring her to Paris.

The Dandelion is short and not uninteresting, but it was a difficult start to the anthology because I still expected there to be more of a plot. But the old trauma that suddenly breaks out here was captured very well.

The Last Game, August 1914

A cricket match, played by boys, watched by parents.

I didn’t really care for this story. Maybe because I don’t care about sports in general and I don’t even begin to understand cricket. Neither did the story touch on my nostalgia points. So it was okay, but it left me shrugging.

The Bread Princess

Salsthorpe has a tradition of Bread Princesses. Their bonnets collected at the Parish museum tell their stories.

I liked the structure where each bonnet is described and then we get a snippet of the life of the wearer. It’s a great idea and was pretty well executed, although I wouldn’t have minded if the stories were more connected to each other. The connections that were there worked nicely.

Walter Bidelow’s Egg

Professor Julian Cramp has two passions: food and dodos. And his assistant has just found something very exciting concerning the latter.

This story was fun and had a great, nice fuck you at the end. But at the same time, I hated Cramp. He was an unlikable asshole who treated his wife like shit. And I didn’t understand why the story had to include some bashing of suffragettes, so that ruined my enjoyment of the story.

The Greatcoat

The war is over and Jack can go home. He just needs to hand in his coat, and he can be done. But he doesn’t want to part with it.

I really liked this story. It was sad, very lifelike and Jack’s story was nicely tied to his coat. The way things develop isn’t exactly surprising, but it didn’t need to be. It was one of my favorites from the collection.

Spark

Wanda is waiting for her husband Ray to come home after she found a sequin in the shower that neither belongs to her nor to him.

This story felt a little same old, same old: childless couple where he cheats on her. But it was also pretty short and maybe something more could have been made of it if it had been a little longer.

The Waiting Room

Eddie comes home to his sister Lizzie, despite the war raging around them.

I really liked this story again. It was vividly drawn and very evocative. I did wish that it had included a perspective shift, letting us see things from Eddie’s perspective instead of having everything spelled out. But it worked regardless.

Artefacts

Annabelle just had her baby Aaron and when she goes to register him, she is served by Leah. Leah is a seer and she quickly knows a lot more about Annabelle than Annabelle is aware of.

Just when the story got really good, it was over and what the FUCK IS HAPPENING WITH PATRICK? I really liked the set-up of the story, the characters and I was emotionially completely involved. I wanted more of this.

Mayflies of Apollo

Daphne hears of the mayflies that have invaded the town of Apollo and knows that she has to go there to see them.

This story was rather meh. I feel that mayflies are a little overused as a simile, but even if they weren’t, I just didn’t connect with this story.

An Old Man Walks Up A Road

When his daughter Sonia is having a baby, she starts to ask him about her own mother and why there are no photos of her when pregnant.

This story was neither particularly good, nor particularly bad. I think that it was too short to allow for an emotional connection.

Lamb’s Lettuce

After four years, Adrian has returned home. But how much of it is still is home is unclear to him.

This story didn’t work for me. What did it want? Where did it want to go? And anyway, what is going on at all? I just don’t know.

Tide

Tim lives with his mother and his brother in Louisiana in a home where not just the heat is stifling.

Tide is very short and manages to conjure up a nice atmosphere, but at the same time, there’s an undercurrent of fatmisia running through the story that was really unnecessary.

On This Day

Richard is confused when Pete finds him. So Pete brings him home to Yvette where he learns more about both of them.

I liked the way Richard’s confusion played out, but I wanted to read about it from Yvette’s perspective and not from Pete’s. I didn’t even know why he was there in the story in the first place.

Cleaning the Gîte

She is a cleaner in the gîte, spending her time cleaning up behind inconsiderate tourists.

The protagonists anger was very palpable, but the way it is resolved was not, unfortunately. Overall the story is competent but not my cup of tea.

Kansas

Meg and Allie are on their way to the nursing home where their grandmother lies dying. But before she does, they want to talk about their family history.

I liked the “reveal” – would the knowledge about their mother’s father change their family? Would it matter? At the same time, these are not open questions to me. With my experience with adoption, I can only assume that it would change everything.

Defibrillate

Cora has been suspended from work so she goes back to the beach where she grew up. There she meets Tate who collects sea glass.

I liked both Cora and Tate and the story worked nicely with its central metaphor, barely overdoing it here and there. The story had a nice atmosphere and I wouldn’t have minded spending more time with all of them.

A Gathering of Relics

Ruth is staying with her sister Miriam for the funeral service that left the entire family in disarray.

This story was a great finish for the collection and definitely one of my favorites. The change of perspectives was nicely handled, as was the dissemination of information: slowly revealing what is actually going on here. What didn’t work for me was the secret behind everything. It just wasn’t plausible or understandable for me and felt a little shortsighted. But other than that, I really liked this one.

Summarizing: a fine collection, but not great.

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