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4.75 stars for Backstories by @SimonVdVwriter #newrelease #shortstories #nonfiction

Title: Backstories

Author: Simon Van der Velde

Genre: Short Stories, Nonfiction

Book Blurb:

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

CAN YOU FIND THE FAMOUS PERSON HIDDEN IN EVERY STORY? Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves, they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? ‘Oh, how I enjoyed these stories. A highly original and beautifully crafted collection that explodes into the reader’s consciousness like fireworks’ - Kate Horsley, award-winning author of The American Girl. ‘Tightly written, technically accomplished, light-footed, wryly ironic and genuinely affecting. Excellent stuff’ - Professor Graham Mort, Director of The Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research and winner of both the Bridport Prize and The Edge Hill Prize. This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth. Backstories is published by Smoke & Mirrors Press. MY BACKSTORIES QUEST “Whatever happened to, all of the heroes?” The Stranglers 1977 I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which is why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question. I’m not interested in simplistic tabloid truths. They clung on too long, drank too much, lost their looks and their charm and generally reminded us that we’re all getting older. That’s not what I want from my heroes. What I want is to find the spark, to dig down into their pain, their passions and their imperfections, and show you our heroes as they truly are. So join me on my quest. Let’s bypass the obvious, the tedious,and the dull. Brave the deeper, darker paths where the treasures can be found, and together we’ll uncover the fears and doubts that made our heroes what they were and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way. Whatever happened to all of the heroes? They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory. Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

My Review:

This is one of the most original and enjoyable concepts for a book. As one who loves an intellectual challenge, Backstories is brilliant. Every reader will just wrack their brain trying to figure out who the person is described in their early backstory.

The selection of such a wide variety of people was impressive. With such a worldwide number of options, the choices run the gamut. I personally enjoyed the variety of time frames and continents. There is a touch of an Anglo-centric nature to the selections but that doesn't take away from the fun this book is.

I took a pad of paper and a pen and eagerly put my guesses down to find out how well I did. There were 9 of them I 100% knew and two I have guesses on. There are several I have no clue about. Here is the rub. This book would be a 5-star review but for the caveat. There is no addendum showing the answers. There isn't even a website to go to that would show the answers. Without the answers, this book is incomplete and if it had shown the answers, it would be 5 stars. It is not.

My Rating: 4.75 stars

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Author Biography:

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers. Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.

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Reviewed by: Mr. N


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