There’s a saying in writing: make every word count or at the very least have every paragraph/scene be relevant. This can be argued, especially for the novel where there is room for sub-plots and leisure strolls through gardens and having tea with a favorite aunt. Not so for the short story. Short stories are (generally) tight, concentrated and condensed.
John Greco’s latest collection of short stories, Devious Tales has all the technical markings of this form and Greco skillfully merges his skill as writer and photographer in these twelve snapshots of life.
His stories are also highly influenced by his passion for noir film and fiction. His short story Late Night Diner reminded me of the rural diner in James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and I immediately associated his story The Organic Garden to one Stephen King could have written because of its macabre and conniving ending.
John Greco’s stories delve into the dark side of human nature. What makes his stories particularly striking is that his characters (devious, at times creepy and horrendous) are also quite ordinary people who remind us that we too have a lot in common with them. So frightening!
The characters in these short stories, although not always directly involved in crime take advantage of one, others seek revenge or lust, money and, at times murder all with unexpected and disturbing twists.
Many of the stories revolve around the relationship between man and woman as in An Almost Perfect Woman which illustrates Greco’s crisp, engaging style of writing:
To be honest I don’t find many women good companions. I am a quiet kind of guy, and women, well they like to talk. Not just talk but express their feelings. They need to tell you how they feel. Expose every emotion, bare their soul! And all I can think about when this kind of tirade starts, there is no other word to describe it, is when is this night going to end!
In his blog Greco recently posted his suggestions for summer reading. I’d add Devious Tales to the list.