Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Maladjusted

The first thing that caught my eye about Derek Hayes' short story collection, The Maladjusted, was the cover.  If I had seen this in a bookstore, I definitely would have picked it off the shelf/display and given it a look.  I didn’t see in the bookstore, however.  The Maladjusted was kindly sent to me by the author for an honest review.  Even after the craziness with my last short fiction collection, I still wrote a bit about each of the stories.  It was a good collection and the stories definitely had me thinking.

Feel for America

A great opening story.  For an in depth review, please see my post for Short Story Monday.

The Maladjusted

The Maladjusted is a great, interesting story.  The unnamed narrator is engaging and makes you think, not just about him, but how people react to him.

That's Very Observant Of You

Melanie is potentially crazy.  I wasn't sure how I should feel for her.  I wasn’t sure what was real and what was in her head.  It was a good, mental, story.

In The Low Post

I didn't really like the story.  I found James, the main character unsympathetic and self-indulgent.  I was waiting for the story to get to the point and I guess it made one about being nice to others or something, but by the end of the story, I didn't care and was already looking to the next one.  I almost didn't bother writing anything about it.

A Good Decision

What if the one who got away wasn't really?  What of you saw them forty years later and realized that you were the one who got away. But it didn't matter to your life, because you are happy and you had/have a great life?  This was a great story.

Green Jerseys

A good story, but one that left me angry by the end.  I don't know if anyone was making good decisions.

Maybe You Should Get Back Here

Max is depressing and confused and self-conscious.  I couldn't like him.  He was driving me crazy.  He was another character stuck in the past.  Is this a theme for Hayes?

A Tank of Gas

I liked this story better than the last.  I really enjoyed the character growth.  It is about teachers in a foreign land again.  This has to be something that Hayes once did.

The Runner

This one connected with me more than some of the others.  It probably has to do with main character's issue with his girlfriend,

A Wonderful Holiday

At first seems like it might be an annoying story about a self-centered man, but by the end, it was really nice.

Tom and Wilkie

This was a depressing story.  It was as well written as all the others, it just left me with a need to read something else, so I didn’t dwell on the negative emotions.  Also, the story kind of disparaged Toronto.  Was that on purpose?

The Revisionist

I felt a disconnect with this story.  I kind of hated the main character. How many stories leaving you feeling sorry for the bully?


Jean is so mean!  She really hasn't adjusted to having a pretty, fun, young co-worker.  Samantha's one line of dialogue shows she is intelligent.  Jean seems to only like people who are like her.  This is another protagonist that I didn't like.  In the end, I wanted to give Samantha a hug.


Finally a main character who goes through some kind of change for the better.  Thank goodness for Joseph.

My Horoscope

Does Hayes actually believe in horoscopes?

This story took me back to my university days.  Stewart's personality is a bit high school-ish, but since they are first-year students, that isn't surprising.  Stewart and his roommate, Cam, are having trouble adjusting to university life.  It's an interesting glimpse at that period.

The Lover

The main character is creepy and weird.  It was another story where I didn't like the main character.  However, I found the overall story really interesting and engaging.  I really wanted to see how he and the patients we going to end up.

In Conclusion.....

The Maladjusted was a well-written, engaging short story collection.  Being a teacher is a theme throughout many of the stories.  We also see foreigners in strange lands.  I guess there has to be some kind of adjustment to be made if the characters are going to have the opportunity to be “maladjusted”.

The collection starts off strong.  Each story makes you want to read the next.  I just wish the collection ended on a less creepy note.  With Inertia, maybe?  I don't need happily-ever-after, I just need to shut a book and not be thinking of weirdos.  Overall, if you're a fan of short stories and good writing, Derek Hayes' collection is worth picking up.

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