20 Short Ones by Dan Salerno is a short story collection that focuses on human relationships. E-reader version – $1.99 on Amazon.
Each story is peopled with a new cast, usually just two or three characters, exploring a new friendship or beginning a romance. Salerno has sprinkled in many details that enrich the experience, such as lively bantering dialog and settings he’s described with intimate knowledge and a full range of senses. The stories are light in topic, but make you think about how the baggage of families, organized religion, and influences of culture impact our abilities to connect with one another.
Salerno draws from popular culture and literature, and because he casts each story with different characters and settings, none seem stale or cliche.
My only hesitation about the stories are that Salerno wrote them in a style that’s not used often these days. His use of the omnicient point of view takes a few paragraphs, if not a story or two, to settle into. I can understand his choice, though, because it’s an efficient way to quickly delve into each person’s inner dialog and backstory. And in the short amount of time and space you get with a short story, an author needs to include enough backstory and information about each character so you quickly get to know them, as Salerno’s been able to do. However, because of this style POV, it’s occasionally tough to determine who is speaking or thinking. That said, there is still a lot to like in this collection. After a few minutes adjusting to his style, I found myself absorbed and turning the pages to find out more about each intriguing situation and how the new relationships progressed.
If you like short stories, I recommend you check out 20 Short Ones. And keep an eye on this author, I predict he’ll be bringing us many more enriching stories and collections.
20 Short Ones takes you from Northern Ireland to New York and places in-between. Each story offers a snapshot experience and an opportunity to emotionally relate to the age-old mystery of how friendships (romantic or otherwise) happen.
Meet Dan Salerno:
Dan Salerno has traveled to Northern Ireland five times and to Japan (once) on mission trips. This was before he lived in New York City for eight years, earning a master’s degree in social research while working for the National Coalition for the Homeless. After that he worked and lived at the Catholic Worker’s Joseph House near the Bowery, before moving back to the Midwest.