People Tell Me Things

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Title: People Tell Me Things
Author: David Finkle
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Nthposition Press
Pub. Date: November 1, 2011

The discussion of me possibly reviewing this book involved its New York City element so I thought it would be a fun book to review. People Tell Me Things is a collection of fictional short stories told in first person by one narrator. (I need to edit this to state that it is actually not supposed to be one person, but it really felt like it throughout the reading). The concept behind the stories is that the author, David Finkle, is experienced in dealing with the artsy crowd of NYC (artists, writers, musicians, etc.). The narrator of the stories does, as well, and shares his experiences and his observations as the confidante. I was amused by some stories, but overall I felt fairly indifferent.

There was one main thing preventing me from enjoying the book, and I noticed that once that was resolved, I enjoyed the stories immensely better. I almost re-started the book at that point (but ultimately chose not to). For some reason, maybe because it's narrated in first person, I kept thinking this book was non-fiction. Actually, it was something about the narration. I felt frustrated because the character wrote as though the reader would understand the references he made and, of course, I didn't (I know now because it was fictional). But I actually spent time googling these people because I thought, wow if they are real people, this author is just calling them out! Driving the bus all over town over all his friends! Some of the references were real life people, such as the photographer in one of the stories, but none of the other seemed to be (at least, not outright). Anyway, I finally made the realization that all these stories were fictional, and this allowed me to connect to the narrator better.

So then what I ended up liking about the stories were that they were conversational. Although I didn't always understand the purpose of the story or the "message" that short stories often try to get across, I did feel that each individual story had a momentum to it that interested me enough to continue reading and to figure out what the end was going to be. It was almost like when someone is telling you a joke and even if you don't get it right away, you wait to hear what the punchline is. They didn't all have a "punchline" that I appreciated as much, though the storytelling was sometimes funny. One of the ones I initially found the funny was one where a man makes a seemingly innocuous comment that his friends end up ribbing him forever about - to the point where it became harassment.

Although there were some stories I liked better than others and the stories had some good elements, I wasn't taken with the book overall. I would recommend it to someone who specifically enjoys short stories and enjoys a little bit of eccentricity.

Follow the rest of the tour:

Monday, November 7th:  Books Distilled
Wednesday, November 9th:  The Broke and the Bookish
Monday, November 14th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, November 15th:  Life in Review
Friday, November 18th:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, November 21st:  Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, November 23rd:  Take Me Away
Monday, November 28th:  Literature and a Lens
Wednesday, November 30th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, Dec. 1st:  Sarah Reads Too Much 


reviewsbylola said...

This sounds interesting but I always have problems reading short stories.

Zibilee said...

To be honest, this book sounds a little weird, and I am not sure that I would like it, though the thought of you googling all those characters thinking they were real is very amusing! I liked your very candid take on this one, but must conclude that this one is probably not for me. Thanks for sharing your insight on it. It was much appreciated!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

This would probably not fall under something I would enjoy. I am always a bit stand offish when it comes to short stories. I need more and have a hard time investing in them. Atleast you had the NYC tie in to keep it interesting.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

heathertlc said...

I'm sorry this one didn't turn out to be quite your cup of tea, but I'm glad to see that there were a few stories you enjoyed. Thanks for being on the tour!

TheBookGirl said...

I very rarely read short stories, so given your lukewarm feelings about this collection, I think I will pass. Thanks for such an informative take on this book.

Jennifer said...

Books like this tend to be hit or miss for me. I have been trying to make a point to read more short stories because I am also trying to write more short stories and have been failing miserably at both. I'm not sure if I would necessarily undersand this one -- it does sound incredibly eccentric, but I feel like it would be worth a shot.

Jennifer @

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