The Ice Cream Vendor's Song


Fiction - Anthology
88 Pages
Reviewed on 10/31/2012
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

"The Ice Cream Vendor's Song" is a collection of forty-six mini stories that became totally addicting for me; I really couldn't stop reading after just one story. Although the stories are totally unrelated, one story led to another because I was curious to see who I might meet or where I might go next in the telling of these stories! Sometimes the characters seem perfectly normal, at other times they do not. While I found some of the stories as really funny, a few were touchingly sad. Each one is like unwrapping a gift because you are never sure what you might find inside each story. These are a few of my favorites:
'Still There': A woman's son is tired of his mother's lack of motivation to move out of her chair, so he decides to take the cat and move out. When he slams the door on the way out a card falls into his mother's lap and is still there two weeks later. What's going on? The twist the author provides grabbed me, and was totally unexpected. 'She Could Decide': Aggie and her husband Bill had plans to take a trip after he has routine surgery which winds up being anything but routine leaving Aggie to decide the outcome! 'Her Love Returns': An odd relationship between a fifteen year old girl and a python. This one was really strange and more than a little creepy!

These are mini fiction stories, rich in detail, filled with nuggets of insight, and characters whose stories just jump off the page. I found myself pondering the plights of some characters and shaking my head and wondering about the stories of others. A book that you will zoom through, but then find yourself rereading just to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Anastacia Hawkins

Laura McHale Holland’s "The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song" is a compilation of forty six flash fiction stories. For those unfamiliar with the term flash fiction, it is a term used to describe a short story in which everything unessential has been edited out. Ms. McHale Holland’s quick-as-a-flash stories take on such serious subjects as death, bullying, rape, revenge, and suicide, along with other subjects such as ghosts, stolen kisses, magical fruit, and enchanted shoes. The tales of feral cats and killer half-breed dogs will keep you from ever looking at your pets in the same way. In 'Her Love Returns', a young girl’s love affair with a python goes terribly wrong, and 'The Hunted' reveals a real-life Red Riding Hood living in the woods with the Wolf. 'Four Blocks Away' speaks of a future in which humans are becoming extinct.

Ms. McHale Holland’s writing style is clean, sharp, and eloquent. It takes considerable skill and imagination to write such complete and enticing stories in so little space, yet these stories all start out strong and flow easily toward their satisfactory endings. She draws her readers in with great characterization and thought-provoking themes. If you delight in the supernatural, that is if you revel in all things deep and disturbing, you will thoroughly enjoy "The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song".

Anne Boling

"The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song" by Laura McHale Holland is a unique work of fiction. This small book is filled with short stories. Holland starts her anthology with 'They Knew Not', a fascinating look at how you cannot miss what you have never had. Several tales focus on death, like the one where a son is disgusted with his mother’s lack of effort to get out of her chair. She sits day and night staring straight ahead at the TV. The son is willing to see her faults but does he actually see her? 'She’ll Be Ready' speaks of abuse. This time she escaped with her life; next time she will be ready. In 'Snow Color' a child sees colored snowflakes as he hears his parents arguing. He silently slips out of the house without their noticing. Some of the stories are a page long and some a mere quarter page. I understood the meaning of some of the stories right away; others left me puzzled. As with most anthologies I enjoyed some of the tales more than others.

This is my first experience with flash-fiction. Flash-fiction usually contains a protagonist, conflict and resolution just like most stories. Due to the length of the story often elements must be unwritten or implied, leaving readers to their own interpretations. I discovered that flash-fiction is not a new concept but had its origins as far back as Aesop’s Fables. I rather like the concept. I found it refreshing to read a story and then find the meaning in it. Laura Mchale Holland is a talented author. Her choice of topics is interesting and left me wanting more. Even though the stories are very short she managed to develop the characters and give them life. In 88 pages she managed to convey wisdom, humor, romance, despair, depression, elation, and a myriad of other emotions. I’d like to see what Holland can do with a full-length traditional novel. I look forward to reading more of Holland’s work.