Obituaries & Other Lies


Fiction - Anthology
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 11/29/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Obituaries & Other Lies by Ron Cooke is a thought-provoking collection of short stories. There are seventeen stories in this collection with titles like Conversations, Baseball Bum, Mississippi ’61, K2, Beebee, Soul Man, Enhanced Interrogation, and Ghost Stories. This absorbing collection brings together intriguing characters and unconventional situations. Conversations, the opening story, sets the tone with its unexpected ending while Baseball Bum and George are noticeable for their positive message. Ron Cooke takes his readers to various settings from Mississippi to Texas, New York, the Akela Flats, and a small town in the Midwest. Mississippi ’61 focuses on a familiar theme but the story is told from a unique perspective. Obituary: John Kenneth Wells is a tale that makes readers laugh and cry at the same time.

Ron Cooke’s Obituaries & Other Lies is a collection of short stories that are all unique in relation to their style, length, or theme. With unexpected twists and turns, his stories cover a wide range of social issues and life circumstances. Each story begins with a foregrounded title page containing writing ranging from a quote from Bob Dylan to what seems like musings from the author himself. This provides an introduction to the story before readers become immersed in the beautifully written and stirring stories Ron Cooke has evidently put his heart and soul into. Ultimately, Obituaries & Other Lies is a tight, spellbinding, witty, and wonderful collection, one of those books that will stay in our minds long after we finish reading the last page.

Jamie Michele

Obituaries & Other Lies: Stories and Such by Ron Cooke is a collection of original short stories, each of which can be read as a stand-alone. The individual pieces range in tone, tenor, and themes, although all of them are slice-of-life vignettes that offer a window into extraordinary moments in otherwise ordinary lives. These include work such as Mississippi '61, a story that unapologetically shows the horrors of racism and a flicker of justice, to Beebee, a summary of a life where a child who is so unremarkable that they are essentially invisible, coming forward to care for those who the world determine must disappear. Another is the titular Obituary, written from different points of view concerning the same individual.

One might think that writing short stories is easier than writing something longer, but that could not be further from the truth. Having to develop characters, reveal a plot, and have an entire arc in a compact format is exceedingly difficult to accomplish, let alone to accomplish it well, which is exactly what Ron Cooke achieves in his collection Obituaries & Other Lies. The stories are engaging and pack a mighty punch despite their compact size. The narrative is insightful and the amount of emotion conveyed is really special. The standout to me was the poem Martin, one of the few poems sprinkled about, and the casual but profoundly deep way it conveyed the perception of an observant, omniscient bystander in the heart of the Civil Rights movement; that proved Cooke's talent extends beyond storytelling and I genuinely look forward to seeing what he puts out into the world next. This is a very highly recommended book.

Adanna Ora

Obituaries and Other Lies is a compilation of stories and poems that cover a wide range of subjects, including racism, discrimination, religion, and many others. While some of the stories are fiction, author Ron Cooke makes it obvious that they are based on his own experiences. The narratives use first-person and third-person perspectives to tell their story. At the start of each new story, famous men's quotes and words of wisdom are used. The poems describe the hardships of black people and their fight against oppression. Imagery, repetition, and rhetorical questions are examples of the literary devices used here.

Obituaries & Other Lies contains stories that are completely worth your attention. Ron Cooke's extraordinary storytelling abilities make the tales incredibly captivating, humorous, thought-provoking, and instructive. You experience a wide range of emotions at once. Suspense is another effective tool the author uses to pique the reader's interest. The use of poems and stories to highlight the problems in society is something else I enjoyed. My best story is the one titled "Obituary," which contrasts what is stated in a man's obituary with what those close to him thought. It made me realize that people can have different opinions and that what we do can have an impact on others around us, either positive or negative. It also emphasizes the importance of hard work, diligence, and striving to be a better person. Ron Cooke does wonders in Obituaries and Other Lies. I would strongly recommend it.