Centrone, Brian. “I Voted for Biddy Schumacher: Mismatched Tales from the Mind of Brian Centrone” with photographs by Luke Kurtis, New Lit Salon Press, 2012.
Three Short Stories
I am always flattered when someone I do not know or have not reviewed before asks me to review his book. All I knew about Brian Centrone was that we were friends on Facebook so when I got his message, I was more than happy to review his work as in doing so I usually get to know more about a writer. This book is a collection of three short stories. The first, “The Life and Times of Biddy Schumacher: A Fantastic Story” is about Biddy, a religious zealot who decides to run for political office. Centrone goes into Biddy’s mind and psyche of the woman who decides that what her community needs is her puritanical opinions on just about everything. Of course, we watch Biddy’s decision to run change her life but I am not about to tell you how. For that you will have to fork over the exorbitant amount of $2.99 to find out but then you get two more stories. Think about that for minute — 3 stories for less than 3 dollars.
“A Shade of Gray” introduces us to Emma, an independent and spirited woman who just cannot find a way to tell her boyfriend that their romance is over. All of us have been in a situation that we do not know how to get out of and I am sure that this story will resonate with many readers.
“Exit” is aptly named as it is about something all of us do and that is to examine and evaluate our lives. As he drives his friends to a party, the driver thinks about his life and decides that he needs a change. How often do we stop to think about a change is necessary?
The beauty of these stories is the writer’s ability to get into his characters and combine wit, satire and wonderful prose. Like the title says, the stories are mismatched or I suppose we are to believe that they have nothing in common. I might have to disagree with that to a point. Granted the stories are unrelated but they do share an author who can tell a story. The characters also share that they are representative of people we know, even with their quirks. The fact that the author has been able to create such characters is one thing but the fact that we can relate to them after only reading about them for a short time is something else.
Each story takes us into the world of the main character and we look at the themes of disappointment, disillusion, habit, the need to move on, relationships and the importance of life yet each of these is looked at differently in the three stories. Centrone has a wonderful command of both the English language and how to use it and while the prose is somewhat simple, it leads us to think about ideas on a more complicated level and to me that is a sign that an author knows what he is doing. I understand that there is a novel coming soon from Centrone and I cannot wait to read it and see how he develops his characters and plot on a larger scale.