book review

Book Review: Snapshots

SNAPSHOTS by Eliot Parker is a collection of mixed-genre short stories exploring the nuances of America's Appalachian region. Check out what Liam Anthony of Independent Book Review has to say about this Morgan James Publishing fiction book.

“Book Review: Snapshots”

Reviewed by Liam Anthony

A fascinating collection of short stories capturing life in its many mysteries

Novelist Eliot Parker presents Snapshots, a story collection which, like its title suggests, captures the mystery and banality of everyday life. Bulging with a plethora of characters and surreal tales of death and fear, it tells stories that also marry the tenderness of family and friendship. The author throws his characters into situations where the reader can reflect on what it feels like to be in a vulnerable situation, creating an adventurous read that will engage, entertain, and make you think.

Parker thrives with his imagination and ability to create a collection with countless different scenes, themes, and genres. The author captivates his readers with magnetic and terrifying openers like in Hands and “Hub2000,” and he quickly demonstrates his knack for excellent dialogue. These first two stories will leave readers on the edge of their seat right up to ambivalent endings.

While many of these stories toy with the thriller genre, Parker flourishes when his stories focus deeply on his characters. In “Special Needs,” Rhonda faces a prison sentence and helps us engage with a theme of solitary confinement and the anxiety it brings. This story observes the need for human relationships and contact, establishing itself as one of the best in the collection.

“‘Thank God. Thank God. I can finally talk to someone.’ The dull, earthy voice was eerily calming despite the circumstances.”

Meanwhile, in “Old Lady,” readers will be engulfed by the tenderness of Parker’s writing. A story about Rachel, who hasn’t overcome her husband’s death, takes the words and actions of a little girl and her mother to offer perspective for his main character. “‘I wish I had reached out to people and didn’t push people away. What I needed was people around me. People who loved me no matter if I was single, married, pregnant, or whatever.’” The story shines a light on the theme of feeling obsolete as a mother when your children leave home and pursue their careers. Here, Parker doesn’t shy away from the visceral. He puts himself in the shoes of many characters, and readers can’t help but identify with them.

Snapshots is an overall solid collection of short stories, but for me, the author’s finest work is in the stories that focus on the relatable aspects of life as opposed to the more mystery-led stories. For example, the title story from the collection is an example of marrying the visceral aspect of the characters with the author’s skill at creating suspense, while in “Ten Pin,” he successfully conveys the story of two best friends and provides his readers with something more clandestine. I also particularly enjoyed “The Trip” in which a couple attends a friend’s funeral to realize that all is not as it seems. The story is punctuated with unique secrets, before undressing the satisfying moral of the story.

Snapshots is an invigorating read and an excellent example of skillful storytelling. Parker’s imagination is uninhibited in this collection. By diving into the lives of these characters, readers will be able to empathize with many of the themes presented. From loneliness and social alienation to irrational fears and the importance of friendship, it’s a book that documents lives and illustrates what it means to be human.

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Paperback: 220 pages

ISBN: 978-1642797138

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