Book Review: 2011
Reviewed by Elizabeth Zender
A stunning collection of short stories saturated with silliness, satire, and shenanigans
In Bob Mayfield’s 2011, you will find his carefully curated tales of cynicism and tomfoolery. The characters are caricatures, the town is familiar, and the tales ring true. From beginning to end, Mayfield writes unwaveringly on the absurdity of the world around us.
Mayfield’s sardonic commentary is clearest in stories like “The Death of the Short Story” and “The Horrible.” In these, the prose matches that of articles in newspapers, highlighting facts in the tone of voice of a derisive yet dutiful reporter. Mayfield highlights the shortcomings and ephemeral nature of social media, texting, and the like. On the next page, he continues by addressing the addictive nature of capitalism and consumerism with comments encased in parentheses.
A story that does this particularly well is “Journalists Gone Wild.” Here, readers follow their faithful reporter in a story that claims all journalists were let go from their jobs and set free into the world. With recurring character Katy Riley at the wheel, these former writers are given hope in new jobs (or at the very least they are given new jobs). Those interviewed by the seemingly only journalist left in the world jab at journalists having no skill set other than putting words on a page; one man speaks of attempting to give one a job painting houses only to find out that they have no idea how to adapt to this new world they reside in.
Mayfield comments on journalism being a “bloated” field, full of writers who are now jobless as a result of the newspaper industry going downhill. In the same story, he points out the Starbucks on every corner in America, juxtaposing these two concepts. Society exists in a state of flux: something old must go in order for something new to appear, regardless of what may be lost in the transfer. It’s hard to discern if we should take the world more seriously or less so, but it’s clear that the way things are going is not working.
2011 tests out a variety of avenues in which to share an acrimonious message through antics like breaking the fourth wall and writers pranking small towns. The world is being taken too seriously, and this collection sorts that out for the reader. If you are ready for hijinks and hilarity that deliver a cutting take on that which is of great import to society today, you will find all of what you need within the pages of Mayfield’s book.
Genre: Short Story Collection / Literary & General Fiction
Print Length: 242 pages
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