If one publisher could be said to be responsible for my renewed interest in the short story collection, it would have to be All Due Respect Books. They have been publishing some ass-kicking collections lately and their newest release, Crooked Roads by Alec Cizak, shows they are on top of their publishing game.
Crooked Roads is a collection of 15 short stories that have been previously published in some of the most well regarded noir magazines and collections available on the market. The beauty of this publication is they are all in an easily accessible volume that allows you the distinct pleasure of reading Cizak’s offerings in one sitting without hassle.
There is not a single story in this collection that didn’t leave me racing to the next story. Cizak has a style of writing that brings the everyday man to life on the page before you and he sucks you into each story line. To have 15 stories in a collection and have all of them be this high quality is a testament to the writing chops Cizak possesses.
Some of my favorites in this collection:
The Space Between: A great piece of flash fiction that shows us the instability of the narrator and hints at a breakdown that is just around the bend. Loved it!
No Hard Feelings: A great piece that shows the best-laid plans of men don’t always come to fruition. The ending to this one made me laugh and really tied the story together.
Katy Too: I loved the rawness to this story. A classic example of “Be careful what you wish for”. A young girl wants revenge on the boyfriend who cheated on her and doesn’t quite realize the potentially deadly plans which she has set in motion, until it may be too late. Gritty and awesome!
A Matter of Time: This story shows the old adage “Honor among thieves” can be a very good thing for the rest of us that live in a decent world. A meth dealer stumbles across a crime in waiting that offends his senses (as it should) and sets out to make things right with the world. Another brilliant piece.
My Kind of Town: Without giving too much away, this story is the ultimate “Watch your back” tale. Cizak just keeps pouring it on with this piece. I found this to be one of my favorite stories in the collection.
But without a doubt, the story that left the biggest impression on me, and it was my favorite of the collection, was the short story entitled Patience. I can’t give any synopsis of this one without ruining the brilliance of this story, so I will leave my comment at WOW! This one will stay with me for a long time and will be the story I measure other stories against. I LOVED THIS ONE!
This is a short story collection that is great for train commuters, beach goers, weekend readers, and anyone who will have a duration of time where they can lose themselves in the micro-worlds that Cizak has so brilliantly brought to life. This amasses collection will surely increase Cizak’s audience and bring his name to more noir readers.