Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Arsenic Soup for Lovers by Georgia Z. Post

Arsenic Soup for Lovers: When Chicken Soup Doesn't Work by Georgia Z. Post lives up to the claims that it contains "Very Very Short Stories for Very Very Busy People." Most are only a page or two long, and at a total of 62 pages, I easily finished this one on my morning commute.

While the popular Chicken Soup books feature heart-warming, inspirational stories, the stories in Arsenic Soup for Lovers are about infidelity, revenge, the desperate search for a spouse, deception, even murder. The darker side of human nature tinged with humor, though many of the stories weren't funny. I'd been hoping for laugh-out-loud stories, but there weren't any, though a few did make me smile.

Obviously at one or two pages each, the stories have little in the way of character development, and they seemed to me like expanded versions of the humorous blurbs I remember from reading my dad's copies of Reader's Digest as a child. Post gives the characters in each story different names (when names are mentioned at all), but still it was difficult to distinguish the characters from one story to the next. It's hard to explain because I know that the stories were separate, but after awhile, I think the same dark themes over and over made them blur together.

However, Post does a good job telling a story in very few words, and a few of the stories stood out as those I enjoyed. In "Midlife Crisis," a wife exacts revenge on her cheating husband without him knowing it, and in "The Perfect Couple," a husband and wife both fed up with their marriage take extreme measures to end it with catastrophic results. There's even a paranormal aspect to "The Devil's Hangout," involving a very pale lap dancer with a crystal ball and a groom with a shady past. The remaining stories were just okay, and some I just didn't get even after re-reading them.

If you're looking for a quick read to pass the time or you're seeking revenge for a broken heart, Arsenic Soup for Lovers is for you. If you're looking for strong characters, lighter subject matter, and stories with some depth, then these really, really short stories won't be enough to satisfy you. But I admire Post for taking a chance. Arsenic Soup for Lovers is edgy and gives life to actions some people might think about (and hopefully it never goes beyond thinking) when they are wronged.

You can read a sample story from Arsenic Soup for Lovers, "Widow for Rent," here.

Disclosure:   I received a free copy of Arsenic Soup for Lovers from the author for review purposes.


Serena said...

This sounds like a quick read for the subway. I may have to borrow your copy!

The Bookworm said...

I've heard good things about this one. Great review!

Anonymous said...

I think I am the only person who didn't like the Chicken Soup series. the stories made me cry and depressed me for weeks. I do like dark, but I don't know. I love dark, hate stories that make me sad.

Anonymous said...

I am putting this on my BLOG. Should make an interesting read for some.

Marie Cloutier said...

sounds like a fun way to while away a few minutes! :-)

Anonymous said...

I dnt know - I dnt want to read it LOL

Anna said...

Serena: Yes, it's good subway reading. I'm sending my copy to my mom with my sister's b-day present. She requested to read it, but when I get it back, you can borrow it.

Naida: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

J. Kaye: I'm not a big fan of the Chicken Soup books, either. I have one for writers that I like, though. I like dark stories, but I just prefer something more substantial. But Arsenic Soup for Lovers was good as far as page-long stories go.

Viola: The book definitely is interesting!

Marie: I agree! And the book does fly by.

Veens: I appreciate your honesty! I can see how it would be hard for some readers to swallow.

Bookfool said...

I bypassed this one because my ARC stack was too big and now I'm regretting it. Oh, well. Sounds fun!

Anna said...

Bookfool: Don't you hate when that happens?! I just read a review of a book I passed up, and it sounds so much better than the description I received via email!