-Reviewed by Charlotte Barnes-
Over recent years there seem to have been fluctuations in the popularity of the short story as a genre. However, over recent months, the genre has certainly been on the rise; proving so popular with readers that we are now encountering the younger sibling of the short story, flash fiction, much more frequently than before. All The Bananas I’ve Never Eaten, the latest release from writer Tony Williams, offers a fine example of why this rise in popularity is happening.
The collection is marketed as a short story collection, although I would perhaps argue that some of these snippets rest better beneath the umbrella of flash fiction given their length. Irrespective of their genre, the stories in All The Bananas I’ve Never Eaten are fascinating insights into the average, sometimes not so average, lives of people.
While I would love to address each story within the collection, given that there are over seventy, it is a perhaps a little too adventurous for this particular review.
It becomes clear from the opening story, ‘Clicks’, that this collection is written from a truly unique perspective, or perhaps I should say perspectives. A personal favourite from the collection is ‘Anya’s Complaint’, a truly intimate and emotional story with a hard-hitting ending that I wasn’t prepared for. ‘As God Intended’ is another forceful story within the book, detailing the suspicions of both a father and son. While the ending is simple, it certainly has an unexpected emotional impact on you when you read the closing dialogue.
A story that stood apart from the rest was ‘The Wonderful Thing’; the title lulled me into a false sense of security from the beginning and, from the first sentence, Williams began to pull the rug from beneath me. The tale is such a painful and honest depiction of a real-life situation, which is undoubtedly something that a lot of readers either have lived or, unfortunately, will live, through. A truly touching addition to the collection.
The likes of ‘Back in Jiffy’ and ‘Call of Duty’ certainly provide welcome breaks from the emotion by littering small fragments of humour in between the more serious tales. ‘Learning to love Mr Lamb’, a later story, also provides a breath from all the emotion with the rather uplifting story of a man who finds himself in charge of a butcher’s shop simply because the butcher shares his name. ‘Laptops’, another humorous interlude, is yet another personal favourite within the collection, demonstrating modern-day flirting as its finest.
‘Markingitis’ is yet another memorable tale, with an amusing beginning that in no way prepares you for the end; something that Williams seems to be remarkably good at, in All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten at least.
While only a few stories have been mentioned from All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten, let it not be assumed that the others were not worth mentioning. Each tale within this collection is brilliant in its own right, with many of them being stories I would willingly and pleasurably return to re-read in the future. Tony Williams has successfully used the medium of literature to weave in and out of the life of the average person, re-creating those lives for our reading pleasure. The emotion, humour and awkwardness in these tales is the closest thing to real-life I have read in an extremely long time and I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book that will keep you on your toes.