Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review (Audio): The Secrets of a Fire King, by Kim Edwards

The Secrets of a Fire King, by Kim Edwards
Audio read by Bernadette Dunne

Before The Memory Keepers Daughter skyrocketed up the best-seller list, author Kim Edwards wrote another book, a collection of short stories.

We all know how much I love a good short story collection, and since I adored The Memory Keepers Daughter, I was interested in reading this one. I was even more interested when I spotted the audio at the library.

Before I start with the commentary, I gotta say something about that cover.

It kind of creeps me out, if I do say so myself. It's too ... embryotic. Too freaky. Anyway, I just had to mention that.

Maybe I keep conjuring up embryos in connection with this petri dish of stories because, with a few exceptions, they all kind of struck me as not quite ... fully formed. The adjective that I keep coming back to for these stories is "nondescript." I've been listening to this audio all week and while they're nice enough stories, most of them fall somewhat flat, forgotten as soon as I eject the CD.

For example, there is a betrayal aspect to the story "Spring, Mountain, Sea" that could almost be viewed as a prelude to the central plot of The Memory Keepers Daughter; in fact, the two incidents are similar enough that I was curious to know if it had inspired or influenced the novel. However, unlike the novel, the betrayal in this short story is mentioned and then all but dismissed, only to be referenced once more. It seems integral enough to the short story that it does the tale a disservice.

Perhaps it's just that the novel format is a stronger one for Ms. Edwards, and that's OK. I think as writers we're allowed - encouraged, even - to experiment. We need to, otherwise how will we ever know what  works? 

2 comments:

JoAnn said...

Too bad... and I really believe that writing short stories is a very different skill or talent from novel writing. The Memory Keepers Daughter was a great audio.

Doreen McGettigan said...

Great review and yes the cover is kinda creepy..I don't think I would have given it a second look..