Art's Place

Stories & Diversions

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
171 Pages
Reviewed on 08/27/2020
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Author Biography

I've been a decades-long writer, publishing in many newspapers, including the New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor. I've published ten other books, most notably "The Lynchings in Duluth," and "The Man From Lake Wobegon." But I've always thought of myself as a humorist, and many of my stories have included humor and satire, all of which are present in this collection. What's funny to me are dialectics and incongruities. The title story, Art's Place, for example, features a working class bar, where instead of arguing about pro football or NASCAR racing, patrons are passionate about art and literature. There's a story about a guy who reviews weddings for newspapers in the manner of a theater or movie critic. One of my favorites is about quilting becoming an Olympic sport. During these times, I think readers might like a few chuckles, and this book should produce those. Thanks.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Art's Place: Stories & Diversions is a collected work of fiction that features short stories, many of which were award-winning, published, or highly commended, and all of which were penned by author Michael Fedo. There is a definite theme of subverting the norms throughout the collection, and all of the stories will offer pleasant surprises to the reader when unexpected things take the place of the familiar. From arts fans with the vigor of sports fans through to thrashing heads to the sound of symphonic concertos, what results in this collection is a highly innovative array of engaging tales.

I always enjoy an anthology because it really gives you a feel for the full range and style of an author, and Michael Fedo’s obvious talent for storytelling is sure to captive readers, whatever their initial taste in genre may be. As with any short story collection, the concepts, atmospheres, and characters all have to grab you at once, and Fedo has the artform down pat to transport you straight into an interesting world from the opening paragraphs. I enjoyed the dialogue very much, and there are plenty of quotable lines that will stay with you and keep a smile on your face long after you’ve closed the book. Amongst all these many strengths of this unusual collection, the standout at its core is the sheer innovation to think in an alternative way, ‘making strange’ our world for us to see it anew. Overall, Art's Place: Stories & Diversions is a highly recommended read.

Louise Hurrell

Michael Fedo’s Art’s Place: Stories and Diversions is a short story collection. The 27 stories are mainly light-hearted and satirical and tackle a whole range of topics. From a chance meeting between Jesse and Henry James to the titular Art’s Place, a bar where the locals discuss art, all the stories have their own unique sense of humor. The stories are incredibly short and sweet. Fedo jumps straight into the narrative and takes the reader along with him, with the pace remaining fast throughout. This helps to keep the reader enticed but also allows for surprises in the narratives. Instead of being bogged down with information regarding this bizarre scenario, you are thrust into the middle of the action and kept enraptured. Another aspect I admired was Fedo’s ability to flit between narrative styles. In Art’s Place, there is a mixture of the first and third person, which again stops the collection from being staid.

In Art’s Place, Fedo plays with our expectations and on many occasions subverts them. This play on society makes the collection really fun and refreshing, never completely predictable. An excellent example of this is the story, ‘The Ladies of West Rarington Falls Get Down’ which sees an increasingly exasperated blues singer attend a meeting of a group of dowagers who seem to have little knowledge of the musical style. Not only does Fedo nail the voices of both the singer and the ladies, but the narrative also appears as a not-so-subtle dig at class. Despite being well-intentioned, the women never grasp what they’re being told about expressing pain through music. That disconnect points to the wider disconnection between classes in society. So, despite the silly premises of the stories, many of them also challenge and mock aspects that we will recognize. Overall, Art’s Place is an enjoyable, light-hearted read. It is perfect for those wanting a pick-me-up or a less taxing read. The fast-paced, unique narratives help to make the collection as a whole very engaging, plus the plots are incredibly imaginative. A collection that you can dip in and out of to escape this world and abandon worries for a short time.