Short story collections can be very hit or miss when all of the stories in the collection have the same author. But American Blues is a rare gem that stands out from the crowd. It demands your attention and then it breaks you.
American Blues contains 5 stories, each set in a different decade – 1977, 1957, 1943, 2010 and 1962 and each has their own voice and tone, which just shows the talent that Guilford-Blake has. There are no parts of these stories, their characters, dialogues or settings that seem recycled or forced.
As you can expect from the title, all of these stories focus on emotions that are negative and undesirable, but necessary and inevitable parts of the human condition. These include grief, addiction, manipulation, depression, heartbreak and loss to name just a few. I personally don’t believe that these emotions are explored enough in fiction, and it takes a brave author to tackle them and a talented one to explore and expose them the way Guilford-Blake has.
These stories are raw, unrelenting and will touch your soul. I think what makes them so effective is that they are so real and believable. The way each of the stories is written is both haunting and visceral and they will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.
I’ve never read anything like this before and I am so grateful for the chance to have read this. The stories are sad, yes, but necessary. Pain, grief, sorrow – all of the negative emotions we have, have an urgent demand to be felt but all too often we try to close the door on them. These stories do not allow that and they are utterly encapsulating.
I can’t pick a favourite story, it’s near impossible. I love them all for completely different reasons, but Tio’s Blues and The Easy Lovin’ Blues keep haunting my thoughts, begging to be thought about again and again. There is a surprise in store for The Easy Lovin’ Blues so I’d recommend reading the stories in the order they appear in the book.
Beautiful imagery is woven by the words and the descriptions create crustal clear pictures. They may be short stories but they house immense character development and immersion.
American Blues is subtle, poetic, beautiful, dark and unforgettable. I don’t want to go into the plot of each story; I think it would do the stories a disservice to mention anything to do with their plots, stories or characters. It’s best to discover for yourself.
Prepare yourself for emotional darkness because that’s what American Blues will give you. But I promise you – it’ll be worth it as these stories are truly remarkable.
Do yourself a favor and check this book out! You can get it here!
You can also read an interview I did with the author too!
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was given a digital copy of the ARC in return for an honest review. I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.