Book Review: Beauty and the Singularities by John C Waite

Beauty and the Singularities by [Waite, John]

Short stories are a completely different form factor than novels. They try to tell a lasting story without having several hundred pages in which to do it. The best short stories create compelling characters, interesting plot points and memorable reactions with just a few words. Writing such a thing can be incredibly difficult, though, so when you find a good short story, take note. John C Waite’s collection of short stories, Beauty and the Singularities has a mix of short stories, which had an interesting take on many different thoughts.

I am not entirely sure on the theme for this collection of short stories. They seemed to all favour contemporary settings, with a few focusing more on thriller-esque ideas, and others on more human emotions and problems. This slight disparity in theme, though, worked well for this collection because you were not quite sure what to expect with each story. That was a compelling reason to keep reading.

Most of the stories were ones that I did not particularly care for, and part of that is just that they didn’t have a lasting effect on me or stir any great emotions in me. That is one of the harder parts of writing a short story—especially collections of short stories—is that they have to all be compelling. These were interesting, but not necessarily compelling. However, the signature piece in this collection, to do with a beautiful woman found in a coffin just when history seems to be repeating, was very good. It was interesting in its plot points; it kept me guessing and wondering until the very end. The characters were unique individuals that had the potential, I think, to be a whole story in of themselves. And the writing was fluid and smooth enough to keep me in the story. This story alone was so good that I could almost discount the lack of stirring emotion in the others.

There were two instances where I had to skip the story entirely. One was because I had read the story before, in a chapter in John Waite’s The Tursiops Syndrome, which I had previously read and reviewed. The other was because the formatting was so difficult and jarring that I couldn’t read but two paragraphs before having to give up. I would say that if such things as formatting errors don’t bother you, the story would potentially be good, but this formatting was a bit much for me. 

On the whole, I would say that there were some gems in this collection and some average stories. This is much like what I would expect from a collection of short stories. The gems, though, were very good. However, for a collection to be taken as a whole, I would have to say that this collection was AVERAGE to FAIR.