The Machinery of the Heart

Love Stories

Fiction - Anthology
399 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Miche Arendse for Readers' Favorite

The Machinery of the Heart by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger is an anthology like none other, looking into the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with love. ‘Love’ is an emotion every human seems to yearn for; however, people tend to forget how complicated and complex love is. It is in no way an easy emotion to deal with and this is perfectly demonstrated in this anthology. The Machinery of the Heart is possibly the most beautiful and yet heart-wrenching collection of stories I have ever read. Even though these stories are so short, they are impactful and real, showing the raw emotions and gritty reality people face in real life.

Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger has an amazing talent for not only writing beautiful stories and relatable characters but also creating descriptive scenes in such a way that you feel as if you are right there with the characters in those moments. And although I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, if I had to pick a favorite it would be Anatomy of a Mixtape. I loved the fact that there is a link included for this story as its focal point is music and how it can be used to convey one's feelings when you can’t find the right words yourself. I felt this was extremely relatable and I found myself enjoying the different tracks in each mini-chapter in this story. Overall, The Machinery of the Heart is such an incredible anthology and I am eager to read more works from this author.

K.C. Finn

The Machinery of the Heart: Love Stories is a work of fiction in the short story anthology, magical realism, and romance subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Adam ‘Bucho’ Rodenberger, this immersive collection of 18 tales explores various facets of love, including the love of people, ideas, objects, self, loss, and the absence of love. While more traditional in style compared to Rodenberger's previous work, the stories maintain his signature surreal playfulness, captivating readers with unexpected twists and turns.

Author Adam ‘Bucho’ Rodenberger has crafted a work that showcases a wide variety of storytelling skills and capabilities, and it’s a really fantastic introduction to an author with an authentic and well-rounded perspective on love. Each story offers a unique perspective, delving into the complexities of human relationships and emotions with clear narrative direction and distinction. Rodenberger's surrealist touches keep things fresh, shifting between grounded, realistic emotion and quirky, offbeat moments that have you suddenly laughing out loud. From tender moments of affection to heart-wrenching tales of loss, the collection resonates with a wide range of experiences in engaging voices, with well-drawn characters whom you can get to know deeply and swiftly in the short story format. I adored the dialogue and thought presentation style too as a means to get into different emotions and perspectives effectively. The result is a work that takes readers on a transportive and varied journey through the multifaceted landscape of love in its myriad forms. Overall, The Machinery of the Heart: Love Stories is a recommended read for anyone seeking a captivating exploration of love's enduring power and its ability to shape our lives in unexpected ways.

Doreen Chombu

The Machinery of the Heart by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger is an enthralling collection of stories that explore various aspects of love, loss, and different human emotions. Each tale offers a unique perspective, capturing the complexities of the heart compellingly. From a woman determined to find her cheating husband to an artist creating emotive works, readers are presented with unexpected situations. The stories take place in diverse settings like maximum security prisons, memory deletion centers, and family dinners with the deceased. The characters are multi-dimensional and relatable, making readers feel the heartbreak, pain, and passion that they experience. Read a narrated movie, meet a mysterious woman who left impactful memories on many men, none of whom remember what she looks like, and reflect on the touching tale of Agnes, a woman eagerly anticipating the arrival of some special visitors. Dive into these stories and more, and get lost in the world of imagination.

The Machinery of the Heart is a captivating collection that takes readers on an emotional roller coaster. It is thought-provoking and immersive, delving into the characters' feelings and experiences. The stories will resonate with readers, offering insights into the intricacies of emotions, and will surprise them with unexpected plot twists. Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger’s storytelling is suspenseful, gradually revealing information until the final revelation of the character’s circumstances and tragedy. The addition of QR codes linking to audio files at the end of some of the stories is an innovative way to enhance the reader's experience. The book deals with deeply moving themes like memories, loss, and sensitive topics such as drug abuse and suicide, which can have a profound impact on readers. Overall, The Machinery of the Heart is a must-read for anyone who loves emotionally engaging tales.

Luwi Nyakansaila

The Machinery of the Heart by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger is a collection of stories that explores the many facets of love and emotional experiences within relationships and families. Each character's story is unique and offers a fresh perspective on love. It presents various characters facing challenges such as heartbreak, loss, and the desire to hold onto memories. The author skillfully weaves together narratives that delve into the depths of bonds and how individuals navigate grief and heartbreak in their lives. The stories introduce readers to grieving spouses, people dealing with loneliness, and couples who are on the verge of breaking up. Join various characters on their unique journeys, from a betrayed woman setting fire to her home to a man seeking to erase his memories to a father leaving his late wife's legacy to his son.

The Machinery of the Heart will make you reflect on the various aspects of love and how far people will go to express it; some individuals love things, others love themselves, and, more commonly, love others. Through the diverse characters and their experiences, readers are given insight into the different ways love can manifest in our lives. Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger's storytelling prompts introspection and encourages readers to consider the true nature of love and relationships. The anthology is well-written and easy to follow, with each story having a surprising outcome that readers will not see coming. A unique touch to the book is that the author has added QR codes to YouTube audio files that correspond with the stories. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys thought-provoking stories about love and its many layers.

Jamie Michele

The Machinery of the Heart: Love Stories by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger is a compilation of short stories that all revolve around love in its many forms, even when they do not resemble what we traditionally view as love at all. Each story stands alone and ranges in length, tone, and tenor. In Admissions in the Dark, the narrator grapples with past relationships and personal turmoil while navigating daily life. Following a violent assault, they wrestle with emotions, coping through substance use and distractions. The love here is a loss. Meanwhile, the story Even God Has Secrets looks into the disciplined routine of a powerful colonel in a harsh prison environment, where oppression and resistance intertwine. Tensions escalate as the colonel faces challenges to his authority, revealing both the fragility of power and the resilience of the human spirit. The love here is not what one would expect, and will remain a surprise.

I walked away from The Machinery of the Heart with a much wider view of what love entails than I considered when I picked it up. Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger proves to be an incredibly talented writer with an imagination that readers will both appreciate and delight in. For me, the standout story was one I found to be most disturbing, and like Even God Has Secrets, it was something of a shock to the system. I love a story that makes me think. The Dinner Was Lovely portrays a couple's disconnected and dysfunctional relationship through their internal monologues. The husband reflects on his dissatisfaction with his wife's cooking and their lack of communication, seeking solace in alcohol and infidelity. Meanwhile, the wife harbors resentment toward her husband's habits and infidelity, expressing her frustrations in secret. Despite their dissatisfaction, they maintain a facade of normalcy, engaging in empty conversations and routine actions. Overall, this is a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and intelligently written collection. Very highly recommended.