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Reviewed by Tania Staley for Readers' Favorite
Once in a while, an author will create a collection of short stories that breaks the mold and attempts to transform the way people think about fiction. Tamara J. Madison’s book Collard County: A Collection of Short Stories does this. Her words break down preconceived notions about the world and force readers out of their comfort zones in order to reconsider the way the world works. Her stories are raw and powerful, digging into the murky elements of society, yet have a magical and hopeful air to them as well. In “Barren” and “Cycles”, the strength of femininity is explored. In the surreal story, “Misplaced”, a woman comes to the shocking realization that parts of her body have disappeared and only by reclaiming them will she be made whole again. In these thought-provoking stories and in the rest of the collection, readers will find themselves easily immersed. Collard County is a short fiction reader’s ideal collection. If you are looking for something exciting and new, then look no further.
Tamara J. Madison states in her preface that she prefers to call her short stories “poetic fiction” or “poetic paranormal” works, and I cannot think of a better way to describe her writing. Her writing has a beautiful, almost lyrical quality. Each word seems to have been carefully chosen so that, just as in poetry, the rhythm and sound of the words is just as important as what they say. Rather than going for strict realism, Madison instead reveals spiritual and philosophical truths through her stories. There is a magical element to her stories that is quite breathtaking, even when it does not entirely make sense. I urge readers to read her stories like they would a poem, realizing that one person’s interpretation may be different from another’s. Her stories are the best when a reader can let go and enjoy the ride, and it is quite a wonderful ride, indeed. Reading a short story collection that is so brave and new is quite refreshing. I highly recommend this collection and it would be a joy to read more from Tamara J. Madison. Collard County is a book that I will be reading again.