Something in the Middle

Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness

Fiction - Science Fiction
428 Pages
Reviewed on 12/18/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

Something In The Middle (Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness) by A. I. Wand is an ingenious and unique book. Containing a selection of stories that can be read in succession for a new experience or reading one whenever the mood hits, the book is an extraordinary experience. Brimming with unique characters, strange situations, and a warped sense of reality, each story tips the scale past normal thinking and behavior in an Alfred Hitchcockish way. Doctors that consume their patients' tumors, a psychiatrist who wickedly transforms her patients into inanimate objects, olfactory technicians, schizophrenic writers, voodoo, a time travel snafu, werewolf breeders gone mad, time loops, and evil witches are only a few of the wild and crazy characters and situations unfolding within the pages of this tome. How do they all fit together? Follow the rambling literary path of the author Mr. Wand, Not-Wand, aka A.I., Sir Agatha, or Augie Christie, as he attempts to publish his book, make a movie, author a writer's workshop, locate his missing wife and editor and see where the stories take you.

Intriguing and enigmatic, Something In The Middle by A. I. Wand is an original and eclectic collaboration of short stories that is unusual and idiosyncratic. Not only is each story twisted and complex, but they are also mysterious as well as dramatic and mind-boggling, flawlessly calculated to engage and entrance the reader. Although the arrangement of the stories appears incongruous, in the end, they eloquently come together, portraying a fascinating melodrama similar to a Picasso work of art. With eye-catching illustrations and chapter headings, the deconstructed story creates a fascinating maze worthy of a Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock episode. Because some of the content is more relatable to a mature mindset, including strong language sprinkled amidst the bizarre storylines, the book is more suitable for those over the age of thirteen. It is an ingenious work of art that will entertain and captivate those who love off-beat and off the wall literary masterpieces.

Vincent Dublado

Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness attests to A.I. Wand’s love for passionately digging into human consciousness. In an anthology of his supernatural cum science fiction stories, you are treated to different creative writing forms that begin with a screenplay-type of story with jump-cut directions that make it a collage of different scenes from popular culture. The rest of his stories are written in standard prose, but they vary in creative approach in terms of point of view and tone, yet they all encapsulate themes of the human experience in the 21st century. It presents a plethora of characters from ghosts to aliens as well as situations from a biology class to the absurdity of financial security—all are designed not only to entertain but to make you think. This anthology as a companion volume to Big Fish in a Small Pond works as a stand-alone book.

Something in the Middle, while appearing as a sci-fi/supernatural/surrealistic collection of tales may appear difficult to describe for some readers. One thing is certain though; A.I. Wand has a unique insight into the nature of being and thought. His use of imagery and creative forms to communicate are well-presented, as his creative technique shows a sophisticated ability to express states of consciousness and his imagination. These stories vary in length, some are short and some are long. Something in the Middle offers reading companionship to anyone who wants to be entertained but does not want to commit time to tackle a full-length novel. It is an enjoyable collection for anyone who has a thing for the surreal, the poetic, and the evocative.

Mamta Madhavan

Something In The Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness by A.I. Wand is an anthology of short stories and microfiction, and is a literary homage to Western pop culture and a tribute to entertainers, artists, writers, actors, cartoonists, producers, animators, illustrators, songwriters, rappers, and other entertainers who bring joy to others. The stand-alone stories deal with diverse and interesting characters ranging from a multitude of characters which makes the collection fascinating and surreal. The stories are different and the author also makes it a point to change the narrative style so that the stories have their own unique charm and do not sound repetitive. The stories are of different lengths and take readers to different realms to make it an enjoyable and engaging book.

Something In The Middle is refreshingly original in many ways; the stories, the presentation, the style, the complexities of the plot, and the characters will all remain in the minds of readers for a long time. A.I. Wand's style is crisp, simple, and elegant and it is difficult to mention which story appealed to me the most. All of them have wonderful concepts and they are a fine blend of supernatural and other elements. They also celebrate the human spirit with an entirely novel and unconventional outlook, and the author's vocabulary and usage of language are exquisite. The stories touch on many things and it is a good book to have on personal bookshelves because the stories can be re-read. They will give new insights and the supernatural/paranormal elements give the collection a sense of mystery and intrigue.

K.C. Finn

Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness is a work of fiction in the short story, science fiction, and surrealism sub-genres, and was penned by A. I. Wand. A truly unusual book from cover to cover, the stories work together in an overall thematic tapestry of perception-altering and thought-provoking narrative, but many of them also stand out as individual works to be read and enjoyed carefully. For hardcore science fiction fans, there are plenty of nods to the greats, but multi-genre readers will also find confidently layered horror, humor, romance, and parody within the complexities of each tale. So begins a journey of fiction which is very cerebral, but worth the effort.

Author A. I. Wand produces postmodern fiction that still grounds itself in today’s world, playing masterful tricks on readers’ preconceptions to produce surprising humorous, emotional, and dramatic moments. For me there was something akin to Tales of the Unexpected in the overall atmosphere, inviting readers to step into a world where we know things will be off, but each story could be a total twist from the last. There are some true atmospheric gems, particularly in the ‘Third Trimester’ of the collection, but it’s the structural aspect of the work which serves as both a blessing and a curse. To really enjoy this work, you have to speak its language, but once you do, I would highly recommend Something in the Middle for those who enjoy complex and intelligent concepts, as well as poignant and emotive fiction.

Jamie Michele

Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness by A. I. Wand is a compilation of supernatural and science fiction work divided into subsections, some which overlap, and others reading perfectly well as stand-alone work. The book begins with a narrative that takes the form of a quasi-screenplay in that it is written using certain script elements and simple parenthetical direction, mostly with regard to motion as opposed to set-up. The rest of the stories are written in traditional form with the exception of pieces that do break the fourth wall, alternating between first and third-person points of view but consistently highlighting the human experience.

Something in the Middle is really hard to grasp at its opening and I admit I set it aside several times. I'm not a flipper who fast-forwards through pages to see how a book is formatted in its later sections and my initial impression of A. I. Wand and their style of writing could be summed up in a single word: chaotic. But hang in there, because it does get much better. In fact, it swiftly transitions into conventional formatting of unconventional stories that are downright brilliant. The writing is clean, tight, and witty, with my favorite chapter being number thirty, titled If Only, wherein the narrator takes a job as a fart-sniffer, with the hyped and professional sounding job title of Olfactory Technician. I suspect this will be one of those books that readers either rapturously love or violently despise. I fall into the former group and am so pleased to have had the opportunity to bask for a moment in Wand's clever style.

Rabia Tanveer

Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness by A. I. Wand is a literal depiction of the year 2020: a little eccentric, scary, and a roller-coaster ride with endless loops. Through the adventures of multiple characters (some named, some not), readers experience strange yet vivid stories that will make them look for answers in real life. From spirits, aliens, to the simple rambling of a tired mind, this collection has it all. It covers a multitude of genres so there is something for everyone. The author wraps up human behavior, society, and how we humans simply are in a very artistic yet real way in these stories.

I like that some stories are short, some are longer and then there are a few that are just a couple of paragraphs. The fact that we learn the names of some characters but not every character's name adds to the intrigue. It builds interest and offers a perfect slice of life for readers to lose themselves in. Each story is unique, each offers something completely different to readers and makes sure they are hooked to the book. Something in the Middle is the perfect companion for anyone who loves short stories and needs a quick yet complete story to read. The pictures added offer a reflection into the stories and provide a nice visual for each of them. I love that each story has a different narrative style. A. I. Wand changes it according to the story and the character's development arc. This is a wholesome, enjoyable collection.

Tammy Ruggles

Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness by A. I. Wand is an evocative anthology of curious stories by a single author from multiple genres, including sci-fi, horror, paranormal, romance, parody, satire, and others. This eclectic mix of stories has something for everyone. Some stories are more serious than others, some are quite abstract and thought-provoking, while others are completely quirky. Although there is a cohesive vibe to the entire book, each story can stand on its own. These stories are quick and easy to get through, but sometimes the themes are a little difficult to grasp. Still, they all make for a very enjoyable reading experience. Wand explains upfront that he is paying homage to all sorts of genres and captures their essences in the stories. Some stories are as offbeat as a MAD Magazine sketch, some are more traditional, while others read like bits of free association. My personal favorite is the passages on Asperger's and Autism.

I like the experimental attitude of this author, willing to try new or different ways of stretching himself/herself or crafting a story. Wand is a clever, creative, and brave writer to go out on a limb and let the world read this material. It's hard to put your finger on just one style because the author uses different ones--one writer posing as more than one author--and I admire that. I am also fond of the short length of the stories. You zip through them before you know it, and then you think about the work as a whole--it stands out, and offers readers stories to savor and come back to later, like a legendary episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "Night Gallery". Fans of "Black Mirror", Ray Bradbury, and other classic offerings of futuristic and near-future exploits will treasure Something in the Middle: Small Stories from the Far Side of Consciousness by A. I. Wand.

Foluso Falaye

A. I. Wand conveys a simple yet profound message in Something in the Middle: life can be fun if you want it to be. The collection of humorous and whimsical short stories explores several random themes like writing and publishing, Quantum mechanics, romance, witchcraft, sibling rivalry, and much more. From sudden appearances of things in the microwave to years of bickering between two sisters, forgetting to buy things for the family at the grocery store, and becoming young again, every story has a unique and fresh narrative. As the author makes it clear from the beginning, this is not highbrow and not something you read with high expectations but rather a book you read leisurely, while doing relaxing things like sitting on the beach.

I am crazy about new ideas and things that deviate from what I am used to as they make life more exciting. Something in the Middle challenges the conventional way of writing and introduces sporadic and new concepts that leave you wondering what to expect next. When I saw the subtitle and the introduction, I had an impression that the stories would be dark and eerie, but they proved to be different. The stories actually have a light mood mostly. In fact, I laughed throughout, mostly at the sheer absurdity, randomness, and in a way, ingenuousness of it all. These stories must have activated different parts of my brain that would have remained dormant for a while if I hadn't opened the book. If you are tired of seeing the same old ideas in books, Something in the Middle is a perfect recommendation. And as A. I. Wand intends for his audience to do, I would definitely love to read it again.

Lesley Jones

Something in the Middle by A. I. Wand is an eclectic collection of short stories that are both surreal and thought-provoking; from a man's dilemma whether to evade a crisis or continue watching daytime television to a writer who thinks he is an oak tree, a child locking horns with a school coach, or a man trying to summon up the courage to ask a much younger, attractive receptionist out on a date. The stories cover a wide range of genres - comedy, romance, science fiction, and drama. The tales are sometimes linked together or stand-alone stories, but every story covers normal human emotions such as grief, courage, fears, strengths, weaknesses and beliefs and gives them a unique and bizarre twist. The line between dreams and reality is blurred in both a poignant and hilarious manner.

Something in the Middle by A. I. Wand begins with a meeting between aspiring writer, Sir Agatha, and renowned book editor Jillian Gaylord. He has written a ten-word novel and needs her help. I loved Sir Agatha's honesty and nativity regarding his writing ability; he was hilarious and Jillian's response was brilliant. The author has cleverly taken everyday human behaviours, fears and fragilities and weaved them into some very interesting stories. I enjoyed the way the author has mocked the behaviours and mindsets of mankind. I did laugh out loud many times at the absurd actions of some of the characters. There are also many highly emotive stories around relationships too that will tug on your heartstrings. If you are a fan of Roald Dahl's Tales Of The Unexpected or The Twilight Zone, then you are going to love this weird and wacky collection.

Amy Raines

Something In The Middle: Small Stories From The Far Side Of The Consciousness by A. I. Wand is a collection of stories told in sets, like trimesters of pregnancy. From an author trying to pitch his strangely interesting story without summarizing it, to a woman meeting her husband at a beautiful hotel, there is something for everyone to enjoy. What would it be like to view your younger self as if you were riding an elevator to your final destination? What odd behavior and conversations surface as the realization of almost certain death envelops the victims of a helicopter crash? What could become of an accidental meeting in a diner with someone whose life coincides with your own?

I absolutely loved Something In The Middle by A. I. Wand! This book of short stories has it all - death and sadness, morose and bittersweet, moments of certain love that could be considered timeless, and tons of humor. The characters in every story are easy to identify with as they share their personal stories. From a woman showing up at a hotel called Longshadow with nothing but her handbag to a young married man with Asperger’s finding joy in living his every day life. I love the way Wand wrote as different people as well as breaking this book up into segments of check-ups and trimesters. I recommend Something In The Middle to anyone who enjoys reading short stories that range across several genres rather than focusing on only one. I love the versatility of the author and look forward to many more stories like this in the future.