Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Coward's Tale

I could not help myself. I read it anyway. The facts were right in front of me, I ignored them. I knew it was going to end in tears but I did it anyway. I have no one to blame but myself. When I look back I know what my downfall was. It was the cover. Look at it. It’s great isn’t it?

In my defense I did not purchase this book. It was sent to me a gift. It was described by my friend as something she was positive that I would , “love and want to pass on!” She was half right.

Would I have selected The Coward’s Tale if I had come across it at my local? I would certainly have picked it up to look at---that terrific cover remember? However I would have read the back of the book and I think then that I would have put it down.

Whatever my friend. This is all speculation. I am not in procession of a Wayback Machine and I did read the book so I have to deal with it.

The Coward’s Tale is about a boy who is sent away to live with his grandmother. The boy becomes friends “with the town’s  begger-storyteller” who regales him with the town’s “lore”. I kid you not.  That is what happens in the novel and that is how the publisher describes it. In that casual, every town has one sort of way. I’m not sure that we have a beggar-storyteller in my town but then again we have downsized since the economy collapsed a couple years ago. Our beggar-storyteller may have been forced to take early retirement or a new position in the highway department.

So the author of The Coward’s Tale is Vanessa Gebbie. She is an accomplished author with two published short story collections to her credit. Oh no let me correct that. Vanessa Gebbie is the author of three published short story collections. The cover of The Coward’s Tale may proclaim that it is “a novel” but don’t you believe it. The Coward’s Tale is a short story collection using that old The Town’s Beggar-Storyteller  as a sloppy device that enables Gebbie (and her editor)to string short stories together and pretend that this is a novel.
Let my foolishness be a lesson to you.