Reviewed by Alisha Churbe
Taylor’s short story collection includes twelve short stories and comes in at just under 250 pages. It’s a larger collection compared to some. The stories are in-depth and focus on relationships between different characters. All of the relationships have extreme ups and downs and Taylor does a wonderful job of exploring every kind of ‘what-if’ scenario he can manage to throw at his characters. Taylor brings his characters to the brink of a decision. There are recent graduates flailing and trying to find what they should do with their lives, a widow who is sorting out being left alone and numerous encounters of couples trying to navigate through life (engagement, other lovers, cross-country moves).
In the title story, “Flings,” we are presented with a large cast of characters and tales of love that is usually misplaced. Taylor does not waste words on his characters’ physical descriptions, so the reader is forced to keep track of them merely by name and relationship to other characters in the story. It’s frustrating at first, but worth it if you stick it out. Taylor spends time deep within his characters; after getting used to his style, it becomes more understandable why he doesn’t bother showing us the outsides of his characters very much. The writing is very matter-of-fact and most of the stories are told as if you’re sitting next to the narrator at a bar–complete with stories of characters you’re unable to care about. The stories move at a very quick tempo.
Taylor’s collection is very well-written and the theme of decisions and consequences holds it together nicely and fits within the realm of all the title suggests. Flings shows us how random events can alter lives. Taylor presents his characters with tough choices and while some characters actually make decisions, others tend to let things happen to them and end up in random places due to their indecision and this can be frustrating, but it’s life and some characters choose indecision over action. The collection would be best for twenty-somethings (some drugs, sex, language) who may best relate to the characters in the stories.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.