Breath of Fresh Air Press (2016)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/17)
“Stolen Postcards” by Jan Ackerson is a unique book in that there are 366 characters, each sharing their thoughts in 100 words. The character’s range in age and cover decades of thoughts and feelings. Each story is unique to that person at that time in their life.
What I enjoyed about this book was that you could sit down and read through all the stories at once, read one each day, or choose which story you wanted to read, depending on how you felt at the time. The author states that this idea of using fewer words to convey thoughts started in her childhood, when her father told her a story about a fishmonger who was poor, but wanted a sign made to advertise his fish. When the sign maker gave him a price on his sign, the fishmonger kept cutting down the words till it was just one word.
Many readers will agree that some books we read are full of fluff to make the book lengthier, or writers use words that the average person doesn’t know, to make them seem intelligent. Having grown up with, worked for, and married a military man, I learned to deal with “just the facts.” Ackerson’s book was right on target for me. With each story and those one-hundred words she got her stories of people and their lives across without the fluff. Simple, right? I’m sure at first, many of you like me thought, “No Way.”
I’m not sure any one of her stories appealed to me more than another, they were all topics I could relate to. A couple of the stories made me laugh because they reminded me of my own thoughts.
“11th Grade English Journal–Who Do You Admire?” was quite entertaining. A student tells about his mother who is classy because she drinks out of a glass, and usually not until after 3 p.m. His father had 50 ways to avoid involvement with his children-he was a pro at staying away. “Untattooed” left me breathless. One morning everyone in Mapletown awoke with their sins tattooed on their bodies – thief, liar, bigot…until months later a stranger came to town with no tattoos. He was friendly to everyone, yet the town people resented him because he had no tattoos. As a group, they decided to stone him and as he died all their tattoos disappeared and appeared on the stranger, gossip, drunk, and murderer.
I highly recommend “Stolen Postcards” by Jan Ackerson. Readers would benefit to take their time and read each story and reflect on what it means to them.