“Backstories” by Simon Van der Velde – Book Review #ShortStories

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story? And once found, can you relate to their struggles?

1) “The Guitar” – a short, small-statured boy from Brooklyn is bullied.

2) “Past Time” – a young black girl in the U.S. south faces discrimination.

3) “The Big Attraction” – a teenage girl in the UK beats a boy.

4) “Alien” – a young man in Britain get into a fight which damages one of his eyes.

5) “The Blank Face” – an artistic young boy is abused by his father.

6) “Like Magic” – a young teenage girl was sexually abused and sent to a children’s home. She yearns for escape.

7) “Wicked Child” – a boy’s father discovers him watching his mother bathe.

8) “All Over Now” – a wealthy, gay man travels by limo to his doctor, where he learns of his terminal diagnosis.

9) “Voiceless Child” – an autistic teenage girl protests – her father is proud.

10) “A Kingdom Shared” – in ancient times a man cowardly watches while his wife and daughters are tortured.

11) “Preserved in Amber” – in the ruined city of Amsterdam, a father makes plans to keep his family safe.

12) “Tonight’s the Night” – a young, homeless teen meets a couple in a cafe who hire her to look after their children.

13) “Banjo Boy” – a musician in Blackpool, England and his son.

14) “Jive Talkin” – a thirteen year old black boy in 1955 gets his bicycle stolen.

The subtitle drew me in. “Intimate stories about people you think you know“.

This clever, original, little book presents clues to the reader so that they can try to identify the famous person in each story. To make it challenging, the author writes of them before they were famous. He has respectfully woven biographical facts and with a little artistic license, presented them in short story form.

The first story is an easy one, a teaser to make you think you might guess them all. Then as the stories progress the puzzles become a little more difficult. I solved them all except two. “The Big Attraction” and “Tonight’s the Night“. I had to do a little online sleuthing to solve those. To be fair, if I lived in the UK I probably would have solved those too.

Each story serves to remind us that the ‘famous’ weren’t always so. They too have less than perfect lives, they are indeed human. The stories also make clear how one pivotal event can change the trajectory of a person’s life.

Fourteen short stories that explore human nature, diverse characters, and each with a puzzle to solve. Fun!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. This is a title from my review commitment backlist which I should have read and reviewed ages ago… my apologies to the author and the publisher, Smoke and Mirrors Press. This is my second read of short fiction for Short Story Month.

  ISBN: 9781838296407 – ASIN: ‎ B08R7P65Y3 – 120 pages

NOTE: 30% of the book’s profits are to be donated to Friends of the Earth, Stop Hate UK and The North-East Autism Society.

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) at The University of Northumbria in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short-story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and their two tyrannical children.

Connect with Simon via his Website, Twitter, or Instagram.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Short stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Backstories” by Simon Van der Velde – Book Review #ShortStories

  1. Carol says:

    This sounds unique and fun!


  2. Pingback: “Backstories” by Simon Van der Velde – Book Review #ShortStories #Backstories #ShortStoryMonth @SimonVdwriter – Book Library

  3. Pingback: “Backstories” by Simon Van der Velde – Book Review #ShortStories #Backstories #ShortStoryMonth @SimonVdwriter – Imobiliare 24

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