Darrin Doyle’s new short story collection, Scoundrels Among Us, is packed full of stories that take us inside bizarre situations or introduce us to colorful characters, who are sometimes off-color and other times average people caught in abnormal situations.
I have to be honest. Short story collections are very hit and miss for me. You get less of a sense of genre and focus, because each story can have a radically different setting, subgenera classification and style. One story may feature a character you love and the next story can focus on a character you loathe.
This short story collection is immensely entertaining. It’s a celebration of the absurd. Sometimes, situations escalate, and the story is about what an otherwise normal person does then. Sometimes, the story centers around something unfathomable, like a dangling man way up in the sky. Scoundrels Among Us has everything from stole Presidential pickles to exploding genie heads to pissed off neighbors that earn their place on the pages. Some stories shock while other stories amuse, and some make you see the world in a different way.
I never like to give too much away, and with a short story collection you have as many premises and endings as you have stories. The title story, Scoundrels Among Us, had a Bruenesque brutality to the swiftness of the action and the unexpected outcome.
Other stories had me thinking about identity (Insert Name) while others had me thinking about how clearly we see our children (Water Fowl). I could go on, but what’s crucial here is that this is a well written collection of a various stories that are at times provocative and at other times absurd, but always entertain. Doyle has the ability to see beyond the black and white of our lives and spin even the mundane on its head to produce compelling stories, some of which I’ve even re-read.