Not even H.G. Wells’ time machine could transport you so beautifully into another world like A.C. Burch
A long time ago, I was offered a book to review, the debut novel by A.C. Burch, The HomePort Journals, published by my friends over at Wilde City Press. I was amazed by the beauty of the writing, and I recall saying that I’d love to read more from A.C. Well, the other day, he approached me and asked if I was interested in reading his latest oeuvre, A Book of Revelations, a collection of eight short stories. Given that I just released my own ditto (which A.C. also graciously agreed to review), I was more than curious to see how someone I barely know, someone who has a very different background than I, would tackle the subject of short stories. And even though I got to read this gem for free, and he mine, I stand by my views. You should know that by now! 🙂
A.C.’s stories are longer than mine, some almost novella length, but boy are they worth reading. Sometimes I wonder where authors get their inspiration from, what it is that makes them come up with such exquisite, delicious stories. Some moved me more than others, and I’d like to call out a couple, who really had my imagination run amok, and my mind do double flips backwards in order to wrap what little mind I have to around the content and the message they convey.
The first story is Curtain Call, and boy did that pull a number on me. I can’t really talk much about it without giving away the twist, which resembles the sort of sixth sense ending. Read that story, it’s going to undo you. It sure did work a number on me, and still does.
The second number is Götterdämmerung, a story where I think we get a glimpse of the author himself, a trained professional musician, and the story about an orchestra and its maestro. It’s sublime, and as someone who really loves the opera and classical music, this oeuvre was totally down my alley.
My favorite though, and I think that has to do with my story, Alex, in Shorts, is called Last Chance, and it’s about a murder investigation. The detective reminded me a bit about the detective in The Slasher, but naturally, he’s very different, but boy, that story? Wow!
Now, A Book of Revelations is a very different book compared to my own, and I love it for it. A.C has a way with words, I already found that to be the case in The Home Port Journals. There, it all plays out in Provincetown. In this book, we move leisurely between there, Florida and the cities of New York and Boston in between. I’ve been thinking how to put into words what it is that makes A.C.’s books so special, without sounding like a prick. Several of the stories, and the Home Port Journals, play out in what I can only describe as “high society”, for lack of a better term. The members of that society are often a bit older, some have money, some very old money, others have not. There are lush gatherings, soirées, dinners, dances and concerts, large ones and small recitals. What A.C. conjures up is a world to which I do not belong, never have nor had a desire to. The mere mention of “can you do a black tie in an hour?” would have me run the other way, not because of the timing, I love an impromptu soirée (who doesn’t?), but I hate black tie.
Instead I get to enjoy it all from the safe distance of the book’s pages. And not only that, the writing is as beautiful as the gatherings they depict, and A.C. is an exquisite painter of settings, locales. I know from my own writing just how difficult it is to paint a scene, and I often choose to forgo lengthy descriptions, simply because I can’t, and rather than boring readers with my inept attempts, I go for the action. Here you read about cleavage in so many colors you think you’re looking at a Renoir, and you get to observe the abyss of human emotion as if you’re staring at Munch’s “Skriet” or one of Dalí’s limp watches. Let me say this as plainly as I can: very few authors I’ve ever read are capable of such beauty with words, no matter whether the scene he describes is a house being burned to the ground by homophobes or a lonely funeral at one of those awful funeral homes. A.C. transports you right into that spot.
Now one can always try to wonder why we write the books we write, and I’ve been known to do that. And I have, on occasion, done that reading this book. However, A Book of Revelations is not getting any better if I knew if and where A.C. the person was, nor why he’s drawn to write some of the strongest and quirkiest female characters in the history of literature. No matter why or how, I’m very grateful for every chance he gets to paint another one of those stories, and I’ll make sure to hang at the door knob, wanting to read it!
Have a wonderful week. I’m going on vacation, which also includes a cruise, so I may – or may not – be able to blog. Please forgive me.