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November 5th, 2009 by Bill Peters
New Book of Short Fiction is an Easy Read
For centuries, writers have been fascinated with the challenge of telling a story in 1000 words or less. Today, it is a popular, albeit difficult, form of fiction showing up in bookstores. Short story telling is known as flash-fiction.
Linda Courtland is a Sierra Madre resident whose book "Somewhere to Turn" is more than a simple writer’s exercise into brevity, it is a compilation of previously published works of some of the most hilarious, and, yes, outrageous, stories. For 159 pages, Courtland weaves her 37 short stories in a recklessly creative fashion that leaves you laughing, tearing up and sometimes befuddled as her off-the-wall characters cope with day-to-day issues.
Each vignette has all the elements of a full story, although I confess some confusion as Courtland finds it necessary to skip details to get on with her protagonist-conflict-complications-resolution story formula. Still, you clearly get the picture in some of the stories that are imaginatively graphic.
From the friendless Facebook user, to the temp-worker dolphin with an orca boss, the stories are easy to read, but leave the reader pensive about how she could possibly have come up with some of her ideas and conclusions.
The title of the book is taken from the first section, very short stories, in which she relates how an anthropomorphic GPS known as Brad wins the heart of a young lady until he becomes too bossy. As Brad, the GPS, says, "You have reached your destination!" You might say she turns him off.
Courtland’s works have appeared in Shroud Magazine, Buffalo Carp, Six Sentences and People of Few Words—publications devoted to flash fiction. She has won several awards for her efforts and was accorded the privilege of reading some of her works before the Soul-Making Literary, a group in the Bay Area which operates as a chapter of the National League of American Pen Women.
"Somewhere to Turn" is available at the Sierra Madre Books in Sierra Madre.