Review by Paul White.
The Fish Tank & Other Stories
Marie Elena Alonso-Sierra
One, I am a hard person to please when it comes to reading.
You see, I don’t much care for populist stories, they are all a bit same-old, same-old. They pander to the lowest common denominator in a sad and futile race for numbers.
I look for stories written from an interesting perspective, ones which touch the soul, stimulate the mind and provoke thought. Elements so often overlooked in favour of the mindless banality which tends to pass for entertainment.
Secondly, I rarely write reviews.
I think I have put pen to paper this way four times in as many years.
Therefore, it is not without reason I write this article, call it a review if you wish, about a book called The Fish Tank & other stories, written by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra.
I first came across this book whilst editing ‘The List’, an annual recommended reading list published by CQ International. The cover, designed by Scott Carpenter grabbed my attention, exactly as a good cover should.
A little later, I was asked by an author friend if I would read an ARC. I did, hence this rambling account.
I was intrigued by the first tale, Jerrys gift, which sort of sets the feeling for the entire book. I say ‘sort of’ because the ambience of each unfolding story moodily fluctuates while continuing the ambience of haunting hope interwoven with a lingering sadness of passing.
The title tale, the Fish Tank, brings to life the stark reality of the authors experience as a child leaving Castro’s Cuba for a life in exile.
After reading The Fish Tank, I understand Maria’s statement about writing these short stories, “I never suspected creating the short stories would tear at the scab protecting a deep wound I still harbour in my heart, one that will not quite properly heal.”
Each story is narrated beautifully; the well-paced revealing of the characters and their situations makes each tale a joy to read, easily flowing from start to the end.
Reading this book allowed me to glimpse into people’s personal and private lives, to live with them as they feared for what the next day, the next hour may bring and, I felt the subdued passion of hope, as the teasing dreams of a better future dangle tantalisingly a fingertip away.
As I said at the beginning, I am a hard person to please when it comes to reading, which is why I rarely write reviews.