A collection of weird and unsettling

You Shall Never Know Security ★★★
J.R. Hamantaschen
West Pigeon Press, 2011

securityAvailable Now (Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

Solid collection of unsettling and weird (with a capital W) short stories. Before I scribble down my 2 cents worth, I want to put a plug in for Crowinator’s review. It was her review that brought the book to my attention and made me want to read it. I also love how she breaks down all the stories and gives you a chance to figure out if this collection is for you or not. And hey, the best part??? If you feel like taking a chance, the ebook is on sale right now for 0.99 cents. That is some serious bang for your buck. What have you got to lose?

Love the title and the cover. These things should never be underestimated. Each on their own has the power to persuade readers to read. I find the big publishing houses are getting lazy of late, or they’ve stopped caring, or they’ve sacrificed their creative marketing departments to save on the bottom line; whatever the reason, most of their covers suck or at the very least are uninspired. But the smaller, independent presses? They know they are fighting for their lives and our attention and dollars. Proof is in the covers, and in their willingness to approve some pretty audacious titles. Evidence please? Book covers are clickable to Goodreads.

I don’t even need to know what these books are about to want to read them. But maybe that’s just the magpie in me.

J.R. Hamantaschen’s collection of short stories has great titles that almost tell a story in and of themselves. He’s also got the patter of Weird down without being overtly obnoxious about it, or coming across as trying too hard. Yet these stories feel modern and young, so much so that some of the awkward word choices just felt right anyway in spite of themselves. Like any small press/independent work, it is rough in places and could do with some editorial spit and polishing, but overall it reads very clean.

The author has a unique and distinctive voice that excels in creating unsettling and/or haunting images. Crowinator refers to the writing as “cryptic and suggestive” and I agree. The stories are more about allowing the reader to think the worst, providing our imagination an opportunity to flex its muscles.

More than titles or prose, what really made these stories hum for me were the ideas behind them. A good story idea that hasn’t been regurgitated a thousand times in a thousand different ways is hard to come by. Hamantaschen must have a tree growing in his back yard where he can go pick one off it any time he chooses. My favorites include:

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