Short Stories by Thomas Ryan

Thomas Ryan constructs seven perfectly paced capsules of fiction in his book that is entitled exactly as to what it contains: ‘Short Stories.’ While the tone of the seven stories varies a great deal, the overarching themes present depict the struggles we face in achieving what we want, and how our relationships with the people around us can either help us obtain our goal, or complicate the matter even further. It can be argued that the most compelling story in the collection is the first one, Ruth, which tells the tale of an abused woman who is standing trial for her involvement in her husband’s death. The ending of this story comes in an unexpected way, wrapping up the narrative in a dramatic fashion. Another story, Nightmares, is an account that chronicles the reoccurring bad dreams of a writer, whose night time visions of a woman being murdered convince him that the dreams are a prophecy, leading him to the decision that he has to save the mysterious woman’s life before it’s too late. The World’s Biggest Bun, sandwiched between the previous two stories offers a lighter tale about a baker’s wish to break a world record, while the final four stories: The Artist, The Dementia Man, The Affair, and Mending Kittens round out the collection and bring forth different anecdotes about life and humanity.

The strength of this collection comes from the memorable characters that become fully fledged beings in each of the stories that Ryan has written, and while there are similar themes presented in each, the connections between each tale could have benefited from been strengthened even further to create a more coherent compilation. Nevertheless, the stories are enjoyable on their own, each with their own merit. From the variety that is presented in ‘Short Stories’ it is clear that Thomas Ryan is a talented writer who has the ability to invent in a variety of different genres while simultaneously offering the most important messages in each of his fictional narratives.

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