I haven’t posted in a while, but that’s because I have been really busy with university reading and assignments and so I just haven’t really had the time. But I’m back today with a post about Agostino Scafidi’s Ebook ‘Dreams, Fiction and Me’. He’s the author of ‘The Anchor That Stopped The World’ and ‘The Invisible Papers’, so it is possible that you may already be somewhat familiar with his work. But I got him to answer a few of my questions anyway! So for anyone who is thinking of self-publishing or is interested in writing, then this will probably be of interest to you and I hope you enjoy!
‘Dreams, Fiction and Me’ is a collection of short paranormal fiction stories written by Agostino Scafidi – author of ‘The Anchor That Stopped The World’ and ‘The Invisible Papers’. The stories, which are said in the introduction to have been inspired by Agostino’s own dreams and Occultism, last for about 2-3 chapters each; making for quick and easy reads.
Unfortunately though, I didn’t actually enjoy the book as much as I hoped I would. I often found it difficult to be engaged by the stories in the collection; particularly those that were written in the first person and present tense. This is a person/tense combination that I absolutely detest and I am rarely willing to credit authors who choose to write this way. From personal experience of reading such books, I have come to find the style too personal. Writers tend to become distracted with the mundane and routine movement of their characters, which is often not relevant in moving the story forward and therefore, they end up neglecting the main action in the plot. This is exactly what I found to happen in this collection.
Some of the colloquial language used in the stories also threw me off guard. Generally, there is nothing wrong with colloquial language in stories, especially if it is helping to portray a character in a true and essential light. I found that the colloquial language worked well in the first story Don’t Let The Fangs Fool You where the narrator is telling us about his old friend, but at other points in this collection, the colloquial language and simple sentences made the stories sound more like, what I would imagine to be, the original dream journal entries. The original journal entries are actually included as short entries after each story in case anybody was wondering and that was a nice touch. But much of the time, the actual stories just seemed like rushed journal entries, rather than well thought out works of fiction.
I also had problems with the figurative language, at times. Phrases like, “I stood inside what looked like a dollshouse. The furniture that stood around me was shabby and plastic, like the sort you’d see in a dollshouse,” just left me a little bit confused as to what I was supposed to be picturing. This kind of language is lazy and not well thought out at all. If we are already picturing a dollshouse, then saying ‘like a dollshouse’ therefore does nothing to bring the image to life.
However, the main problem I had with this short story collection, is that many of the stories lacked an actual plot; and if there is no plot, then it is almost impossible for one to become enthralled by the story. What Agostino seems to do, is state the dreams almost exactly as they occurred, coloured here and there with fragments of really nice descriptive language and then peeling in other places by it’s lack of direction. The ‘Visiting Hours’ story is a prime example of this. In Chapter 1, the single action is that a man is in a house and needs to go the toilet. In Chapter 2, the single action is that a man is in the same house, but it is now a studio of some sort and he meets a dog. The chapters are arbitrary and this is a big problem for me. A lot of the stories I feel, had the potential to manifest themselves in to great plots, but I was largely let down by the fact that they were successively anti-climatic. One of the stories I particularly liked was You Can Make It If You Try, as the idea of secret service agents is something that has always been of interest to me. But it failed to develop in to something bigger and I think that if it had, it would have been a really interesting read.
I will however, commend Agostino on his use of descriptive language. Although fairly intermittent, when the description is there, it is not overdone and it is just enough to paint a nice picture of exactly what is going on. Notable examples are: “words being thrown back and forth like a tug of war” from When There’s A Story To Tell and “shaken with astonishment” and “huddled in a fetal position” from You’ve Got To Show Some Guts.
Overall, I cannot say that I liked this book. I have given it 2 out of 5 stars, because I would not be quick to recommend it to others. Having said that, I may just be being very harsh and you may therefore be able to connect with it better than I did!