Your Pick

Selected Stories

Fiction - Literary
280 Pages
Reviewed on 09/28/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Dancer, choreographer, and attorney V.S. Kemanis is the author of the Dana Hargrove legal suspense novels and dozens of short stories on many themes, published in journals and collections. Her latest collection, Your Pick, includes a dozen reader favorites selected from her previous collections.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Life is full of snippets, some true, some made up. When life becomes a story, there are many versions, multiple scenarios and tangents. And then there is the clever weaving of fact with fiction and point of view. Author V.S. Kemanis does this expertly, one story at a time. The reader is instantly immersed in the stories the author weaves, never wondering whether or not it’s a true story or one that was made up. The telling is the art: the setting, the plot, the characters all weaving their mysterious magic through words, metaphors and similes singing the ambiance of all that makes the story real and alive. The story is as much the metaphor as the minuscule metaphors woven into the telling. In Rosemary and Reuben, the high class restaurant that requires a reservation at least a year ahead is not about the food and fine cuisine. There isn’t any, really. It’s not about the taste or the sense of savoring a good meal. There isn’t anything with taste to savor. It’s about the experience. The ambiance. It’s about the story. In many ways this collection is like that. It’s about the story. Rich in metaphors and intensely provocative descriptive passages, these stories are to be tasted, savored, enjoyed and read over and over again.

Your Pick: Selected Stories is a powerful tribute to this author’s mastery of the art of creating not just a good story, but a story that needs to be read many times to appreciate the full power of its presentation. From themes of love (acceptance and rejection), to racial issues, to life’s unexplained tragedies, and everything in between, this collection presents a raw view of life. The author has a knack of creating a plot out of something very simple, like the meal served in a high class restaurant (Rosemary and Reuben), or the destructive nature of tragedy and humanity’s resilience to overcome what was stolen (Pianissimo, Fortissimo). Even the titles allow the reader to dig deeper into their meaning.

The greatest power in this author’s writing is the use of description. From Rosemary and Reuben: “The small foyer is square, dim and hushed like a confessional.” And another one from the same story: “the words are bottled under a well-aged cork.” With my personal love and background in music, I was drawn to the story, Pianissimo, Fortissimo, and the nuances between creator and creation described within: “His music was his voice.” And from the same story, the revelation: “It pushes upward on my diaphragm and tightens my throat into spasm, then just as suddenly washes everything clean and open. A hand straightens my spine, another lifts my chin, completing the inner passageway, my column of sound. I sing!” These stories sing. With both power and conviction.

Paul D.

Your Pick: Selected Stories is an intellectual collection of masterly written, solid and enjoyable stories. The author has a distinctive style of writing, impressing a smooth transition back and forth from intricate to casual story delivery, each commanding the same impactful reaction from the reader. V.S. Kemanis architects the perfect amount of character and scene development, allowing the reader to effortlessly fill in the purposeful blanks. The attunement to inner human emotions is genius and astounding.
The stories are unique and once you realize the author has a unique technique of leaving the endings, not as twists in the conventional sense, but as intentional blurs, artistically woven into the last few paragraphs, it leads you wanting to discover the next story and its subsequent inferred ending. This is a refreshing method of leaving the story simmering with the reader, as all great stories should. Simply excellent.