2.24.2010

Review: Pieces of a Rainbow, by Maria Savva

Eesh. I wish I could say I enjoyed this collection of short stories, but I really did not. Perhaps, if I hadn't spent the last month or so reading tons of short stories to compare these with, perhaps then I would have liked it a little. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Savva claims that her stories and characters are from the real world and "true to life." But to a writer that should never mean boring. None of her characters are sympathetic. "True to life" they may be, but the problems in the prose make them flat.

The focus on the 7 colors of the rainbow (the red of a sunset, the orange of a little boy's hair, the yellow of daffodils, the green of envy, the blue of the ocean, the indigo of a woman's scarf, and violet....which in this case is the name of a baby) seems completely forced. It was as if she added the colors for the sake of adding colors, not to better the story or the collection as a whole.

Savva warns us (on the back of the book) that "There are not always happy endings, but the tales reflect the real world, and the forces of nature at work in our lives sometimes beyond our control." You know, dark and dreary is okay...when it's efficiently so. But I felt nothing from this book. Some of the stories are sad, but they're over-editorialized. It's more like reading someone's obituary than reading their story. The phrasing is juvenile, and there's pretty much nothing literary about it.

I read one person's comments (I think on Amazon.com) about how Savva completes a thought and executes a vision with so few words. I'm all for simplicity, but the lack of adjectives is atrocious. And then there's the annoying use of italics. I like italics when they serve a real purpose. I was discussing this with a coworker and he reminded me about Michael Ende's The Neverending Story which utilizes italics to distinguish between Bastian's world, and the world of the book within the book. That makes sense.

But Savva uses italics to signify the past, and it's kind of brutal. Pages and pages of italics that don't feel appropriate. Not only that, but to (I guess) increase page count, the entire book is double-spaced. It's distracting, it's (again) juvenile and it feels like.....well, it reads like what it feels like - a student's forays into writing for the sake of a class.

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