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Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
An engaging read, Mementos: A Unique Collection of Short Stories & Flash Fiction is the sixth book in the Mementos Anthologies by Theodore Jerome Cohen. It consists of forty-four titles, most of which are inspired by unusual photographs found on the internet. The one exception is inspired by a computer-generated photograph produced by an artificial intelligence (AI) system. The book also contains excerpts from the author’s thriller series featuring NYPD Detective Louis Martelli. It opens with my favorite story in the collection, a poignant non-fiction story titled Going Home, inspired by a picture of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Streetcar 361. Time in a Bottle, inspired by a picture of a man smoking a cigar while looking out the window is another of my favorites as they both evoke strong emotions that are familiar to many of us.
Reading Theodore Jerome Cohen’s aptly titled Mementos was simply a delight. I love the variety and surprise of his stories inspired by photographs, the souvenirs with which we remember a person or an event close to our hearts. This is where Cohen’s creativity shines through because although the stories start with photographs, the plots that follow are not always what one would expect. Compressing an entire story into the space of just a few paragraphs, Cohen doesn’t fail to deliver one surprise after another. His stories always have interesting characters and well-established settings. Sometimes subtle, at other times palpable, the tension is masterfully woven into the plot. This is a quick and entertaining read filled with intriguing imagery, fascinating characters, and stylish prose.