Drift: Stories by Victoria Patterson – A Book Review

Drift has edge, and, in the beginning, this edge made it a breathtaking—almost dangerous—read.  However, as the book concluded, its edge started to feel forced, thus negating its overall effect.

Patterson has successfully written a captivating collection of intertwined stories taking place in Newport Beach (of all places).  Most of the stories star recurring female protagonists, and most deal with very real issues of common life, even if in an uncommon locale.   Patterson pulls no punches, and this bluntness, initially, is refreshing and creates engaging—though not necessarily likable—characters.

A photo of Patterson smiling along a beach is embedded within the back cover of Drift.  She is a normal, attractive woman with a nice smile.  Her apparent affability unconsciously biased me, and so when male-on-male oral sex, drug use, and child abuse occurs, I was shocked.  I’ve always believed it’s important to separate the artist from the art, and I’d forgotten my own cardinal rule.  Patterson has edge—real edge—in the early stages of her collection.  It was placed perfectly within the pacing and tone of her stories, and while jarring, it didn’t strike me as awkward.  Unfortunately, about three-quarters of the way through Drift, that edge began to feel forced and even a bit sensationalistic.  It drew so much of my attention that I couldn’t lose myself in the tales any longer.

Even with that being said, it’s important to note that Patterson IS a very good writer.  While I question her plot choices near the end of the book, her stories remained tight and well-written throughout.  She has an excellent sense of pace and delivery, and her sentences flow with ease.  In other words, no matter what the subject, this is a person who KNOWS how to write well.

Anyone interested in the short story genre would do well to read Drift.  Though mostly focused upon female protagonists, there’s absolutely no reason why a male wouldn’t also benefit from these stores—perhaps a male could even learn a thing or two from the female perspective.  Furthermore, any aspiring writers should take advantage of this author who knows how to deliver edgy stories occurring within the mostly normal aspects of real life.

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