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Reviewed by Dinorah Blackman for Readers' Favorite
Gary Troia’s English Yarns and Beyond is a compilation of life stories relayed candidly from the point of view of a very passive male. The stories begin as a young boy and follow him all the way into adulthood. Many life-altering experiences are shared and each one offers an unusual ending, along with the main protagonist’s interpretation of it. A young boy, who watches a classmate fall out of a tree and land at his feet more damaged than he could ever imagine, rethinks his future career options. At a caravan park, life lessons about the dangers of society’s classicism and prejudice are learned. The death of a close friend leads a young man to make inconvenient choices that almost cost him his mental stability. An unexpected surgery for a common accident touches a grown man and causes him to come face to face with his fear of death. These stories and others like them flow from the life of a common individual who had to deal with many of the same challenges and insecurities most of us withstand during our lifetimes.
Troia’s writing is light and pleasant. His stories are laced with humor and unusual situations. As you read, you find yourself picturing the circumstances and the places he so vividly describes. The anecdotes lend themselves to analysis of what drives human beings and what would happen if we made better choices. English Yarns and Beyond provokes the question: are our lives really the result of our thoughts? You can’t help but wonder how the endings of each story could have been different if the individual had been a little less self-centered and more focused on establishing deeper, more meaningful relationships.