Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publication date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Kelvern Books
Futility is a collection of unique short stories that do not follow the usual plot lines even though they talk about things like struggles, deceit, hope, and disappointments. The stories are well-written, dark, gritty, tense, and thought-provoking. The writing taught me to expect the unexpected in each story, even though the happenings are not what you’d call dramatic or fast-paced.
Now that I’ve finished the book, I’ll be looking over my shoulder for that deranged stranger who could walk up to me and manipulate himself/herself into my life. Or, I’ll look at someone sitting on a park bench and wonder what’s their story. This is the effect this book has had on me.
My favorite story is Heart of the Party, where a socially awkward man finds a new job in a far-off location and hopes to reintegrate into society. I could relate to Mr. Henderson because I, too, have trouble making small talk.
Another piece that caught my eye was Choosing Alienation, where (I believe) the author talks about his writing process. It is fascinating to see how he views disappointment and evil and considers writing from the POV of the villain instead of the victim.
What do we miss when an author writes a “nice” story? Are evil people somehow marked by their temperament or behavior such that we can pick them out from a crowd? Such questions are discussed with great lucidity in this piece.
I do feel, however, that the stories could be shorter because some parts of it feel unnecessary to the plot (where the author launches into descriptions of settings or people). If edited more tightly, the stories would have greater punch instead of meandering to an ending.
Nevertheless, if you’d like to read something different–stories that don’t always have a point or aren’t hurtling towards an end that you can somewhat guess, then Futility is the book for you.
(I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.)
Life is difficult, life is a struggle. But there is always hope… to raise our expectations, cheat us and leave us worse than ever before. Yes, life is difficult, life is a struggle – with failed hopes and bitter disappointments added in to kick us when we’re down. So, let’s look on the bright side. It ain’t so bad when it happens to fictional characters. In fact, it can be quite fun….
In these six short stories, meet the lovestruck author and fashion designer who dream of escaping their humdrum existence as insurance administrator and florist, the born loser whose new job overseas offers him the chance to start his life afresh, the shy nice-guy threatened by redundancy and his new neighbour – the mysterious nurse who moves into the block of flats just as they are about to be demolished, the pretentious couple whose film evenings cannot disguise their disastrous relationship, the man who feels sidelined by the world and the great Russian writer, for whom life has dealt a bitter blow.
About Stephen Shahbazian
Steve Shahbazian has won no awards, no competitions and isn’t critically acclaimed. Some of his best friends have gone so far as to describe his work as “okay in places” and his books have been in huge demand, mostly due to the large number of wonky tables needing propping up. He lives in London.