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  • By Tony Spiess
    Jan 19, 2011
    Until now, for me, a book had to have length, a plot to turn the pages and characters that grew and challenged easy assumptions. That all changed, as did my reading preferences, when I discovered ‘Clown’s Café’ by Susan Biver, a collection of twenty five short stories. This book makes a marvellous grazing read that suits my now lifestyle, I so seldom have time to settle down for a long uninterrupted read. Each dip into it is a revelation, but more than that. Each time a pure delight and pleasure in using the rich texture of words and language to capture thoughts, comes across in the writing. What a varied range of writing is offered, from pithy vignettes to the truly tender and insightful stories, covering the gamut of human foibles, that more often as not, end with a surprise twist. Stories presented in very simply constructed sentences but often set within complex plotting. These stories could at times be suitable for the young adult-to-be, when wham a very mature take on the... More > world is offered with a panache. Just as you settle into the sequence of stories and begin to anticipate their development, Susan Biver introduces yet another twist and turn in the storyline taking us into fresh new dimensions. With this many stories to choose from not all will hit the high mark set. For me one of the weaker stories is ‘Perlexity’. Surely the incongruity of the opening sentence, “My tiny wordless brain is perplexed” should have rung warning bells. So some stories suffer from being too affected, too intellectually contrived, nice, enjoyable nethertheless but not always fully engaging. Perhaps the hardest skill for a writer to master is capturing different voices and the hardest is for a female to write thinking as a male or visa versa. Something that Susan Biver takes on with aplomb but with uneven success. How to organise such a diverse range of stories is another challenge in itself. The weak opener story ‘Two Minutes’ rather than the title story ‘Clown’s Cafe’ does not adequately showcase the stories that follow. A shame as this may not entice the buyer further in to the collection. Without any dates given we are left completely in the dark about the writing sequence of the stories offered nor can we share with Susan Biver her journey and the apparent developing confidence in the story topics that she tackles. Naturally the stories are all make believe fiction, but when Susan Biver draws on her considerable range of life experiences, write from things close to her heart, then her pen flys. I could then really engage with the evolution of the character and empathise with their predicament set up in the story. The poignancies of ‘Once more, once less’ and the insights in ‘Theo’, the rich understanding displayed in ‘Birds’ contrasted against the compassion and originality in dealing with the subjects of dying and dementia with such tenderness in ‘Underground Springs’ will live on with me. Stories that I shall want to return to again. Now that Susan Biver has grown into her metier I look forward with relish to further expeditions into the recesses of her fertile mind.< Less
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Product Details

ISBN
9781446154960
Publisher
Susan Biver
Published
December 7, 2010
Language
English
Pages
349
Binding
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
1.29 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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