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William R. Potter

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Member Since: Sep, 2007

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Lighting The Dark Side-Six Modern Tales
By William R. Potter   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010

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This collection of three novellas and three short stories varies greatly in genre, settings and tone, but one consistent feature that really stands out is very strong character development. Though I enjoyed all the works (not always the case in many collections) my favorites are the novellas "Bent, Not Broken" and "May 18, 2010," and focusing on those also reveals the great variety of this collection.

This collection of three novellas and three short stories varies greatly in genre, settings and tone, but one consistent feature that really stands out is very strong character development. Though I enjoyed all the works (not always the case in many collections) my favorites are the novellas "Bent, Not Broken" and "May 18, 2010," and focusing on those also reveals the great variety of this collection.

"Bent, Not Broken" brings to life a very complex character, Dwayne Johnson. He has some qualities of OCD, but Potter avoids the clichés that would harm his story if he just stuck to 100% textbook OCD traits, say like Nicholson's character in "As Good as it Gets". Potter knows real people are far more complex and brings layers of nuance to Dwayne's character as well as that of Dee-Dee, a woman who is transformed from one of his obsessions to a full-fledged love interest. The interactions of these two characters are constantly intriguing and surprising--again, just like in real life. This is the opening novella and the source of the collection's title and definitely draws the reader in wanting to read more.


Being a genre of horror and sci-fi, I enjoyed "May 18, 2010" a lot, due to its speculative fiction nature. Again, however, even though working in a genre, it is Potter's dead-on characters and realistic dialogue that keeps things moving. I am not exaggerating to say this novella is every bit as
skillful and satisfying as some of Stephen King's best novellas, "The Mist" or "The Gingerbread Girl." Just like King, Potter knows a solid speculative conceit is important, but what really engages the reader is how the characters react to the conceit.

I also enjoyed the short story "Prominent Couple Slain" quite a bit and would love to read more stories and novels featuring Jack Staal, the detective introduced there.


The other two short stories, "In the Gray" and "Blessing or Curse" are both well paced moments of crisis in their protagonists' lives and along with "Prominent Couple Slain" showcase Potter's gift for dialogue that is true to each individual character.

The collection closes with "Surviving the Fall," another fine novella about a lonely divorced man's complex relationship with a teenage girl he saves from the streets. As in the opening novella, Potter creates a vivid palette of emotions and contradictions in these characters' psychologies.


When you read Potter's fiction, you are in good hands. You will never feel cheated, as when authors resort to cliché to rush to the conclusion they have forced upon their characters. In Potter's universe, characters come first and the reader gets to know them as well as a relative or friend. You follow his plots because they make sense for the characters, a refreshing change from a lot of poorly written popular fiction.

 
This is a first-rate collection and I look forward to reading more from William Potter.
5 Stars

Highly Recommended/Must Read by George Wilhite for Reader’s Choice

 

 

Web Site: Lighting The Dark Side



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