Life. It’s a strange yet funny thing isn’t it. One minute you are invincible and feel like there is nothing you can’t do, the next you’re crashing down and stumbling into a dark pit of drunken despair. You are dealt the hand you are given and unfortunately there are some things that you simply cannot change. Oh how I wish it wasn’t like that but annoyingly this is how this whole life stuff works. Sucks doesn’t it? Yet do not despair dear reader for I have a book for you this week that can’t help but make you smile.
The first book of the year I have chosen to review is a collection of short quirky stories, Life Seemed Good, But.… By Richard Bell. Bell used writing as therapy when his wife got leukaemia and a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book is donated to the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science for cancer research. A terrific cause so please be sure to grab yourself a copy if you like my review.
Pop on your aluminium foil hat dear readers and prepare to enter a world like you have never witnessed before. Popcorn at the ready? Lets go!
The best way for me to describe this book is fairy tales for grown ups. Plain and simple, adult fairy tales. Just because we are no longer children doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a good fairy tale, and these stories are perfect for that. I especially enjoyed the vampire twist on Cinderella, Cindervampire. It was a fresh take on the classic we all grew up with and made me start thinking about all the other fairy tales in a gothic style. Ironically when you actually think about it, fairy tales by authors such as the Brothers Grimm where much more dark and disturbing than the Disney versions that are told today. Bell’s tales are magical yet with a very realistic view on life. Each story tries to teach the reader something, a moral or message.
“And now, in reading this, you’ve also killed some time. What kind of monsters have we become?”
It is definitely an experience I highly recommend. I can promise you it won’t be a waste of time, or will it? Nahhh but in all seriousness it’s worth a read.
Bell’s writing style is quirky and witty which makes me giggle childishly at how strange life can be. He is ironic and a tad sarcastic but it really works well within the stories. It brings them to life and each one has it’s own personality.
“The old goat claimed she had been set up and framed and it was all a ba-a-a-ad misunderstanding.”
I love me a good use of imagery and boy was I in for a treat. His images did waltzes around my brain, leaving me feeling enchanted and wooed.
“I vividly recall that gloomy, early evening when the clouds were ominously green and swirling like the proverbial frog in a blender.”
I had never before considered that a potato could possibly have feelings and that we pretty much eat them alive. My Pet Spud really made me think and view the world in a different light. I saw Bell’s image of a huge potato king roaming the lands and telling everyone off for eating his kin. It made me laugh, yet was still a terrifying story when you think about it.
“Unfortunately, Spud got his final revenge. Everyone who ate of him turned into a permanent couch potato with an overwhelming appetite for daytime talk shows.”
I found myself questioning everything around me. When I cracked an egg into the frying pan. Was that a small, faint scream I heard? Had I just murdered an egg and cooked it alive in front of its family. When I was boiling pasta on the hob, was it slowly burning to death and crying out in pain?
“Desperately he screamed, “I am Grilled Cheese Sandwich and I want to live!” while glaring at her. All she noticed was the chatter of the cafeteria.”
It’s intriguing and I admire this different way of thinking. Giving food, objects, anything a personality. It’s creative and genius when you think about it. Why shouldn’t they have a personality. The world needs more stories akin to this. They are just dying to be heard.
There are a lot of real and relatable themes that Bell works his magic on to make them laughable to numb the pain. He touches on sensitive topics in a humorous way, which helps desensitize them to the reader making them less frightening or hard to deal with.
“As a zombie I have more confidence because, what’s the worst that can happen? I get rejected? Look at me. Nobody’s perfect, pal, not even you.”
Life is bizarre and even in the worst of times you have to laugh. Bell does this beautifully to the reader. One minute you are relaxing on chocolate beach and then suddenly you are transported to the land of Oz telling off that pesky little dog. Don’t forget the bed bears! They only come at night. Never forget the bed bears dear reader.
Most, if not all of the stories intertwine with each other or with the characters from previous stories. It’s cleverly done and adds to the realism that this world is out there somewhere. I suspect that we are closer to it than we like to believe. Very close.
My favourite story from this collection is Santa’s New Rules. I love this idea of making Christmas a raw harsh reality, no more candy canes as it promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. No magic. No wonder. Nothing.
“Santa has to release all his reindeer since having them pull his sleigh is considered cruelty to animals. As they never learned to fend for themselves in the wild, they soon starve to death on the frozen tundra.”
Again, it’s a twist on something we have all loved and grown up with. To take that away is similar to that feeling you felt when you discovered that Father Christmas wasn’t real. (Theres still no proof!) and the world becomes a little more gloomy with rain clouds at every turn. I admire how Bell has taken this idea and made it his own. He doesn’t try and mask the brutal and depressing reality of the world we live in. He tells it to the reader straight and basically that this is life, we should make the most of it before it leaves rudely without a polite goodbye.
I absolutely loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. It’s witty, amusing and darn right bizarre, but it has a charismatic charm that hooks you on each page.
Grab yourself a copy here! Don’t forget that a portion of the proceeds from book sales is donated to Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science for cancer research.
Check out the links below!
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