June Bug Gothic

Tales from the South

Fiction - Anthology
200 Pages
Reviewed on 06/19/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

In addition to a career as a newspaper editor, publisher, and manager, Robb Grindstaff has written fiction most of his life. The newspaper biz has taken him and his family from Phoenix, Arizona, to small towns in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, from seven years in Washington, D.C., to five years in Asia. Born and raised a small-town kid, he’s as comfortable in Tokyo or Tuna, Texas.

The variety of places he’s lived and visited serve as settings for the characters who invade his head.

His novels are probably best classified as contemporary southern lit, and he’s had more than a dozen short stories published in a wide array of genres. His articles on the craft of fiction writing have appeared in various writer magazines and websites, and one of his seminars was presented at the Sydney (Australia) Writers Festival. He also has taught writing courses for the Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Australia, and Savvy Authors.

Robb retired from the newspaper business in the summer of 2020 to write and edit fiction full time. He and his wife relocated to the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Robb also edits fiction and non-fiction books for authors from around the world. It helps that he's fluent in five languages: U.S. English, UK English, Canadian English, and Australian English, plus his native language, Texan.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite

June Bug Gothic is a motley collection of eighteen Southern gothic tales from Robb Grindstaff, ranging from short stories to flash fiction. The first story narrates how the scent of the magnolia tree on summer nights can bring about sweet dreams. In another one, the desert rains mask the approach of an unrelenting lover who has pursued his love interests for decades. The most innocuous people at the airport could turn out to be spies. “Evolution of Love” shows how the universe provides a miraculous sign to even the strongest non-believer. After relocating to an old house, a lonely widower treats unusual patients. In “June Bug,” a little girl does not understand why they cannot see her mother anymore. In the ultimate story, two addicts carry out a futile search for the head of their decapitated friend.

Albeit a quick read, June Bug Gothic made a lasting impression on my mind. I marveled at Robb Grindstaff’s seemingly effortless ability to create such bite-sized tales that enchant readers within moments. Each story introduced an unexplored dimension using only a few meticulously chosen words. For every written word, Grindstaff seemed to leave an entire novel unspoken. The themes were diverse, with the author possessing equal mastery in romance and horror, fantasy and realism. Yet, each tale boasted elements of surprise and intrigue. Many stories, such as “Magnolia Nights” and “Airport Lounges,” left me speechless with their unexpected endings. “Of Was and When” and “Ellie’s Head” left me grappling for an explanation, while “Dreams” and “Sarah Mae’s Holiday” provided dark humor. If you are a fan of the macabre, this is the perfect read for you.

Pikasho Deka

June Bug Gothic is a collection of eighteen short stories by Robb Grindstaff. The book opens with "Magnolia Nights," where a woman reminisces the times spent with the love of her life, only to realize that some things are lost forever. "Sarah Mae's Holiday" follows a woman obsessed with making the best out of her holidays, unwittingly causing an uproar on Black Friday. In "The Missionary's Position," a young reverend's attempts to save the soul of an exotic dancer in Manila lands him in an uncomfortable situation. A man with a severe melanin shortage is desperate to get himself a tan. But events cause him to disappear out of the blue in "Frank and His Tan." "June Bug" is the story of a young girl who must come to terms with her mother's horrible mistake at a tender age.

An enthralling collection showcasing the tragic, humorous, and unexpected absurdities of life, June Bug Gothic hooks you in from the get-go and refuses to let go until the end. Author Robb Grindstaff blends a diverse set of genres, including romance, horror, and drama, to tell some authentic tales that will keep your eyes glued to the pages. The characters are layered, with complex and distinct personas that make a mark on the reader. Each story brings something unique to the narrative and leaves you with a lot to ponder about. Although I enjoyed them all, "The Missionary's Position" and "June Bug Gothic" were two of my personal favorites from the bunch. Highly recommended.

Astrid Iustulin

Will Cordelia be able to get rid of her unwelcome suitor? Is it possible to know why Tory died? Why is it better not to reveal your dreams to your girlfriend? How is it possible that Grey's great love only lasted nine days? And what did June Bug's mother really do? To answer these questions, I invite you to read the short stories that you will find in June Bug Gothic: Tales from the South by Robb Grindstaff. Although they are all different from each other, these short stories (some very short; there is even one that is only 140 characters long!) have in common the characteristic of being set in the South or with Southerners as protagonists. Are you ready to discover them all?

June Bug Gothic is a collection that I have read with pleasure and will remember for a long time for the originality of the stories included here. Robb Grindstaff has a way of telling what happens to his characters that cannot fail to thrill those who approach this world made of the South and Southerners. Among my favorite stories, I must mention Nine Days (Maria's lecture to the protagonist is memorable) and June Bug (in which the young protagonist's thoughts are described in an exemplary way). These are just two of the stories, and this is an invitation to read them all. I recommend June Bug Gothic to anyone who likes to read well-crafted stories with memorable characters. I am sure this book will appeal to all who love good reading.