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Relishing each morsel of Impromptu Scribe, a collection of short stories by Alex Morritt, you are at first surprised by the brevity and completeness of each vignette Morritt is a skilled and inspired writer, delivering poetic descriptions and characterizations that ring true, intrigue, and somehow give you the sense of having just read an entire novel He is like a master photographer, capturing the essential moment with clarity, yet leaving just enough of his subject unrendered so that your own imagination is allowed to help develop the image Each story is a glimpse into Morritt s world of experiences and observations, most drawn from his travels in Central and South America Each is complete and unique, yet familiar, ordinary, and very personal Each contains a crucial and definitive moment in the life of a character whose back story is precisely and economically revealed by setting and circumstance There is humor, pathos, a universal connection between cultures as diverse as the Mayan and the British, and the pleasing rhythm of worlds well chosen You will enjoy your thousand and one nights with Alex Morritt and like this reviewer, look forward to future works by this brilliant writer. I found Morritt s writing in his collection beautifully visual, showing a whole spectrum of colours There s absolutely no doubt about his observations from when been in Guatemala It was a bit bland for my taste buds at times but when it was really good, it was just not enough. Whether It Be Nail Biting Courtroom Suspense Surrounding A Celebrity Star On Trial The Tear Jerking Return Journey Of An Ageing War Veteran To The Battlefield Of His Youth An Hilarious Account From A Dog S Perspective Of The Eccentric Clientele That Frequent His Master S Restaurant A Bittersweet Tale Of A Vendetta Waged By A Young Girl Denied Her Favourite Ice Cream Or The Adrenalin Fuelled Adventures Of A Terminal Cancer Patient Turned Base Jumper These Make Up Just A Handful Of Examples Of What To Expect In This Riveting Short Story Collection Immensely Visual And Highly Versatile Are By Far The Most Frequently Recurring Descriptions Of The Author S Bold Style Of Writing Given By Early Reviewers Of Impromptu Scribe , His D But Short Story Collection Here is a collection of short stories and vignettes some amusing, some sad, all thoughtful brought vividly alive by masterful description Each piece examines a different aspect of life The author dips us into it, so we can understand and feel the protagonist s view The hopes, the tragedies.Morritt narrows our focus to the size of a knothole through which we view each piece differently We can make out a beginning, middle, and end for some, which constitutes a story, however short Morritt begins with what might be his best short story, Fallen from Grace An actor is brought to trial for misconduct, and we are treated to a surprise ending.For others, our view is so small, we can see only what appears to be the beginning of a story, with nothing following, as in the piece, Birdmen, which feels frustratingly abandoned And then there is the view so small, that it is a thoughtful observation The Art of Conversation is such a piece.Through each piece, the author writes from wide experience, so his descriptions strike a note of truth My favorite is Words in the Wind, about a kite and a divine connection. Impromptu Scribe is a collection of stories about the joys and sorrows of the human experience As an American expat living in Guatemala I purchased Impromptu Scribe after learning that the author was to appear at a book signing close to my village at Lake Atitl n Because I really enjoyed his two prior works, Guises Guyana and Glimpses of Guatemala, I was excited to read this newest book As a lover of languages I immediately noticed the Morritt s delightful and creative use of vocabulary I especially enjoyed finding words such as forensic enthusiasm, starving mites little children , sprog akin to the American Rugrat , and prevaricating.Although this is a compilation of short stories, some consisting of a mere three pages, each tale is expertly written in such a way that allows the reader to feel a genuine connection with the characters and to become fully engaged in the plot.The medley of themes and variety of locations are lovely The author brings us on a journey to the mountains of Guatemala in Words in the Wind, whisks us away to a small village in England in A trip Down Memory Lane, and then we re plummeted down to the depths of the freezing arctic waters in Survival In my review title say that Morritt s work is one that shares the joys and sorrows of the human experience because that s exactly how I felt as I eagerly moved from story to story Reading this book reminded me of watching those emotion packed films where one moment you re doing all you can to not begin sobbing aloud at the intensely dramatic story line, when the focus of the plot suddenly shifts captivating the viewer s heart along the way to a lighthearted scene where we see something so lovely that it makes our souls blossom with joy In Scribe, for example, even as my heart was still breaking for Carlos at the end of Afternoon Rain I flipped over to the chapter Peeping Tom and was absolutely tickled by Tom s surprise reaction when he caught sight of Mr Phipps lover Who could have possibly guessed that the old man had been secretly stowing away his sweetheart in a shed Then my empathy for Poor Marco and his impossible predicament in The Dilemma was followed by me laughing aloud at Hector who had sniffed his way around Paris so that he could indulge in his not so secret foot fetish Santos, the young Mayan boy of Words in the Wind who flies his handmade kite in the Guatemalan mountains in memory of his grandfather, especially tugged at my heartstrings Followed by Fruits de Mer, which was as mischievous, playful and provocative as one could hope for, complete with a very unexpected twist that left me smiling for hours afterwards I found it difficult to chose a favorite, but the hauntingly beautiful passage in Eternal Notes where it reads the scent of her favourite perfume instantly reconnected them as if via some olfactory sliding door to the other side, was truly unforgettable Although I purchase almost all of my books in the kindle edition simply because it s just so convenient for traveling, I will certainly order additional hard copies of Impromptu Scribe The books will make excellent gifts and I plan leave one for my house guests to flip through The nice thing about this compilation of short stories is that it lends itself to any reader one who has only ten minutes but wants to be lifted up and carried away by a beautiful tale or another, like me, who couldn t help but read them all in one sitting. Impromptu ScribeAlex Morritt127 pages, 0.99This collection of short stories by British author Alex Morritt offers a smorgasbord of delights Whistling through each of the thirty or so short stories is the ghost of the author, not mentioned in the text, but present in the viewpoint, the gaze, the objects and people noticed and ignored in each story I found myself seeing past the characters on the page and wondering about their creator, about this man, a well travelled wanderer, lonely perhaps, when he finds himself between romantic interludes, with an eye for the elegant, the well turned out, who notices the magnificent facades of the buildings in the affluent parts of town, the dust in the rural market, the asymmetry in the hang of a perfect rocker s smoking jacket hidden away in a thrift store.The stories carry the reader through a dizzying array of locations and characters Paris in Le Marais, Italy, a courtroom in Hollywood, a fancy restaurant, a rural English village, Milan, a prison cell, a war zone, a Guatemalan marketplace, a truck full of hopeful undocumented immigrants, Mexico City in the nicer parts The characters are compassionately sketched, even the bad ones These pages contain the child molester, the ladies man in various forms, snappy dressers, a peasant boy, a dishonored daughter killed by her father, a terrorist, an old British veteran visiting the poppy filled fields of Amiens for the last time, a terminally ill base jumper, a vengeful babysitter, a pair of lovers feasting before the feast, a dog with a discriminating nose and a foot fetish The stories are mostly told from a decidedly male viewpoint, an honest and open one, delivered with a sheepish shrug for any sins and a sense that any female outrage is expected and already factored in and accepted as one accepts with stoic calm both sunshine and storm as Heaven shall find it meet to dispense one or the other The author writes of the transgressions of men, men who are cads, unfaithful men, preying men, men who pray for the empty seat by the pretty girl, men who listen not well to their wives instructions, men who like their lady doctors and long for the visits of their nurses, men in love with their cars, men who long for a just so artisan poncho, men who long for their dead wives, men robbed by thieves and by time, men abandoned by neglected wives, men with guns, men in disguise.Some favorites from this box of chocolates Hubert and Hector, Words in the Wind, A Silver Lining, Poncho Man The editing and formatting are clean and tidy, unmarred by errors, and the writing is poetically beautiful at times I am not a reader of short fiction my taste runs to the epic but I can well imagine a dozen or of his vividly drawn characters taking flight and headlining novels of their own should the fancy ever take them Perhaps this talented traveling writer will tarry somewhere a little longer someday, and stretch out a short story into a longer one, even a novel, perhaps of experimental format where his characters meander in and out of each other s lives I am certain this traveler with so keen an eye could construct a worthy journey through a longer story for his readers should he ever choose to do so As for those reviewers who carp that he has bundled up his writing group stories and made a book of them, I can only reply that they should go forth and do the same if they have even a handful of stories as fine as the best of these Would you not buy a man a cup of coffee in thanks if he told you a charming tale and made you laugh Impromptu Scribe is a collection of short stories with widely differing subjects and settings.The topics are intriguing no wonder they sparked the writer s imagination and prompted him to put pen to paper I gather they were provided to him at a weekly writers circle meeting but you can tell that that this writer takes his broader inspiration from his wide experience of many cultures and situations I d say he is a person who looks and really sees There were some perceptive observations which really enriched these tales This came across especially in Poncho Man Some of the stories were quite harrowing the supply ship lost at sea the illegal immigrants inside a container lorry Others were light weight, like Peeping Tom Others were vaguely revolting, like Fruits de Mer.The characters were interesting and provoked differing responses I despised Wilma and Eduardo made my flesh creep I felt sorry for Bob who hasn t been in his situation The stories are mainly brief ideal for a bedtime read or for whiling away minutes in a waiting room Some of them are deliberately and rightly ambiguous, leaving the reader wondering But all too often they left me without a resolution when I really needed one the brilliant cathexis of Philippe s flight, for example, absolutely requires the counter balancing catharsis of its outcome the one without the other just didn t work Just a sentence or two would have done it Writing a short story is like packing a very small valise for an extended journey into unknown terrain you have to be really selective and every item you put into the bag has to earn its keep a dozen times over Since this is a review and not a short story, I can afford to throw in a possibly superfluous simile here Short stories need to be distilled down to their essence, intensifying every word, imbuing each one with complexity like a sip of twenty five year old Scotch But here I found some words, clauses and sentences which didn t contribute anything to the story at all, redundant asides and throw aways which were like unnecessary lumps of ice and dashes of ginger ale they diluted and distracted.These stories are short, but they could have been shorter, and, being shorter, better. As he explains, this is a short in page length collection of over 30 stories, each between 500 2500 words Some are too short to be sensible, others beg to be fully developed I have to admit, the form is off putting As part of a reading writing circle, Alex writes supershort fiction in response to writing prompts While this is an excellent way to produce ideas and hone the craft, I am reticent to condone rounding up enough of them to fill a book and bringing them straight to market Having said that, Alex is an excellent writer I enjoy his prose and the originality of his ideas I have enormous respect for the travelling writer who brings foreign lands to vivid life My favourites were The Art of Conversation , Journey to Nowhere , Coyotes , and my very favourite, Poncho Man If the author wishes to make a name for himself in flash fiction, I wish him the best But what I yearn for, as a reader, is for him to pick out some of the very best of these prompts, and develop them as full fledged stories It is not the writing or the premises that dilute my sensibilities, but the format The stories, rather than following a typical exposition conflict resolution flow, consist of short exposition danglers While I am not in theory opposed to open endings, when reading this work, I felt myself vacillating between confusion at the impromptu cutoff, and a frustrated yearning for.I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Impromptu Scribe is a great collection of short stories for all tastes The collection doesn t follow a theme which means there is a wide variety of topics.What I liked about the bookThe stories were well written and I could find something for every mood I particularly enjoyed Hubert and Hector and found the story being told from the dog s point of view interesting and funny Alex Morritt did a great job in his descriptions and I loved how I was able to visualise each story.What I didn t enjoy that muchMy only niggle, and it is not exclusive to this collection of short stories, is that I sometimes felt the stories were not finished As if they were Flash Fiction than short story I would love to see some of the stories expanded on.Final thoughtsI really enjoyed this book It is ideal for a tea time or lunch time read or a quick trip on the bus I will definitely keep my eyes open for work from this author.STAR RATING 4 StarsWill also be posted on my blog on 13 May 2015 Short stories are not usually a genre I would choose, but I did enjoy this interesting and varied collection There are stories in this book that would resonate with everyone The author s clever perception of characters brings the stories to life I particularly enjoyed Fallen from Grace and Hubert Hector A Trip Down Memory Lane was touching and evocative Lost in Translation was a classic example of a husband not listening to his wife How many times have we heard of this sort of thing happening Several stories left me wanting , for example Coyotes I feel this one could have continued for a bit longer, but perhaps that s just me I recommend Impromptu Scribe as an easy to read, dip into book, and I am sure there is a wealth of stories yet to be written.