Snapshots - a collection of short stories
by Eliot Parker
Snapshots is a collection of ten short stories concerned with the human condition and those moments where things can irrevocably change; either by a forcing incident or an awakening within the person themselves. Short stories can be notoriously difficult to write and get right. So many are one-dimensional mini-novels, poorly structured and peter out with no definable narrative. Thankfully, Snapshots does not fall into that category. Mr Parker is very good at utilising clear, sharp language in a concise manner to quickly portray character, setting and drive the narrative on within the format of a short story. In each of the ten, you are very quickly immersed exactly where you need to be and you want to read more. On the whole, each of the stories works well as a short.
However, the subject matter ranges from the very interesting and absorbing to the merely satisfactory. Personally, I believe (with additions) that there could be two collections of shorts here or they could have been separated into two sections. The paranormal creepy thrillers and the those commenting on human behaviour; affairs, loss, longing. The mix of the two genres can be a bit jarring. For example, ‘Hands’ the first story is disturbing from the opening few lines – I could really feel the chill sanitation of the morgue and all that entails, it was nicely done. I assumed that all the stories would follow this pattern but then you have ‘Snapshots’ and ‘The Trip’ which although have a great sense of underlying tension are not paranormal. Yet, certain themes and occupations do reoccur. I thought ‘Snapshots’ was strong and, to me, there is a definite novel in there. It worked as a short story and also left me wanting more. ‘The Trip’ I found a little odd, it needed a bit more fleshing out and it concluded abruptly and obviously. ‘Ten Pin’ was good, the tension was growing from the first couple of lines and was conveyed incredibly well towards the end. ‘Sexting’ was enjoyable but a bit of a stretch; if she was sitting next to her husband would he not notice anything on her phone? And, for the screen to be seen in such detail from someone sitting behind? But, it was good – Parker had certainly conveyed the unpleasant nature of the sexting character successfully enough in a few paragraphs that you were rather pleased at the ending. ‘Old Lady’ was, to me, the strongest, I could really identify with the emotion building in the story and each paragraph revealed another layer to the characters involved. I thought it was a really good story to end the collection with even if the conclusion slightly let it down by being a bit saccharine – it might have been better had she not picked up the phone.
Eliot Parker is a very good writer, his work has a deceptively easy reading style which, like all seemingly easy things, is not straightforward to execute successfully. Technically, there were a couple of formatting issues and one typo but I was reading a .pdf version through NetGalley so these may well have been addressed in the final version. I would definitely recommend this collection and would read more from this Author.