Way too many years ago, when I was in high school, some friends and I had listened to a couple of authors talking about how they had written a couple of books together. We thought it might be fun to do something similar and write a few shorts stories jointly. We’d each start a story then pass it on to the next person in the writing chain, and so on. Though we never really talked about it, I believe that we each realized that this process didn’t work too well as our styles were quite different and the stories often devolved into scenarios where we would set up the next writer with a page-turner moment ala “He opened the door and couldn’t believe what he saw” or “She never expected what happened next.”
In 52 Serial Shorts, seven French authors haven’t yet learned this lesson.
Harold Cobert, Irène Frain, Christine Orban, Daniel Picouly, Yann Queffélec, Tatiana de Rosnay, and Didier van Cauwelaert are French authors of varying notability but clearly with some skills and credits to each name. For an entire year the seven of them would write one short story a week, with each writing a part of the story on any particular day. Fifty-two short stories.
I didn’t find a single story interesting or worth reading.
I did, however, find more than a few sections of stories interesting. The problem with this format is that there is no consistency to any story. Rather than taking the first (or second or third) part of a story and trying to figure out where the story is going and continuing with it, these authors have each made their own unique mark on each story and changed the direction of the story. … Okay… perhaps this is a generalization. There were times that one section flowed into the next, but I do think it’s safe to say that every single story was hijacked in some way but one or more of the authors.
There were times that I really wanted to keep reading what was started, but I never felt satisfied with the way the story developed.
I tried to assess if it was just one or two authors who were changing the stories, and if I had stopped reading before the end, I might have said yes, there were two authors in particular who changed these stories significantly. But having gone through the entire book, I believe that every author contributed to this dysfunctional flow of story.
What might be an interesting experiment once or twice, is just annoying when done fifty-two times.
Looking for a good book? Me, too. 52 Serial Shorts is not it.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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52 Serial Shorts Complete Edition
authors: Harold Cobert, Irène Frain, Christine Orban, Daniel Picouly,, Yann Queffélec, Tatiana de Rosnay, Didier van Cauwelaert
publisher: Le French Book
ebook, 214 pages