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Four American Tales

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  10 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Four American Tales describes a world of hopes and fears on the far side of the American Dream, in a quartet of evocative stories about love and loss, struggle and ambition from the 1950s to the present day.

‘Wichega’ is an atmospheric tale of childhood’s dreams and nightmares: when Sweet Pea and her family move far away, is it really because her father has quit the Navy, o
ebook, 53 pages
Published March 31st 2016 by Greyhound Press
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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Kathy Davie
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A collection of four short (short!) fictional stories about events in four separate tales of American lives.

This eBook was sent to me by the author for an honest review. And if it sounds good to you, go get it over at Amazon right now [11 Feb 2018], as it's free.

The Stories
Wichega” is a sweet sad tale of a young girl’s perspective of life when her daddy comes back into their lives with his "new” yellow Oldsmobile. And I surely did enjoy Messenger’s use of dialect to give "Wichega” flavor.

A Hun
Colin Garrow
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Jack Messenger’s first collection of stories throws up an eclectic mix of characters and situations, binding the tales together with themes of love and loss, struggle and ambition. The possibilities of starting again feature in the first two stories: ‘Wichega’ finds a classic automobile prodding a child into imagining what might be happening to her family when they move to a new town. The search for stolen loot and possibility of a fresh start, carry ex-con Earle and his patient girlfriend Nadin ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, read-2018
Interesting characters and stories. In the foreword the author indicates that one of his aims with the stories is to “provoke thought.” The stories certainly did that with me. They have characters and storylines that make you wonder, sometimes forcing you to read between the lines and, in doing so, making the story your own since your interpretation will be different than mine. A good, fast read.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Jim Nichols
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
In Four American Tales Jack Messenger introduces us to four very different Americans.

Messenger opens with “Wichega, a story tinged with a supernatural spookiness closer to Flannery O’Connor than Stephen King. We don’t know exactly where little Sweet Pea and her family live, but the language suggest it’s someplace with big hills and deep hollows. There are legends of frightening things that might eat little girls there, places with, “a bridge that rattled like old bones.” We learn with Sweet Pea,
Ginger Bensman
I read a lot of short story collections. Alice Munroe, Flannery O'Connor, and William Trevor are some of my favorite authors, so a short story collection has to be pretty great for me to read past the first one, and Jack Messenger’s new collection kept me reading. The collection includes four evocative short stories.

“Wichega” is the reminiscence of a woman past 60. She recounts the last days when she and her mama, daddy, and little sister, May Alice, were together as a family. The narrator and
Connie Lacy
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jack Messenger is a natural storyteller. And he has a nice ear for the spoken word, whether it’s a poor rural, southern family or a more modern woman living in New York. I think it’s because of the richness of the spoken dialog and internal monologue that he draws such believable characters.

This is a fine collection of short stories. The third one about a young man who goes to work in the sex industry was like nothing I’ve read before, leaving me a tad uncomfortable. “A Hundred Ways to Live” fea
A quartet of brilliant stories.

On starting this collection with the first story, Wichega, I was immediately drawn in by the wistful, melancholic voice of Sweet Pea, telling her story so powerfully. This story is so evocative of memories, of sights and smells and sensations, that I almost felt that I was right there in the scene. This story is such an engaging way to open the quartet of stories.

Messenger's writing is equally powerful and emotive in the other stories. The characters are develope
Harlyn Bryan
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Four American Tales is, as by title, four american tales woven together by author Jack Messenger. They are four standalone pieces which provide a sneak peek into the writing style of Messenger prior to the release of his full novel. Of the non-related set, I most enjoyed the first and the last short story. I will break my review down by each individual piece within the collection.


Wichega is a tale of Sweetpea and her family of four. It begins with the return of her father to the family fo
Steph Warren
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
*I received a free copy of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

These four short stories by Jack Messenger perfectly capture the intimacy of the everyday mundane detail in all its gritty pathos.

From a young girl who doesn’t grasp the realities of the adult life she is tethered to, through a pair of thieves on the run in seedy hotel rooms and a stolen car, a successfully humiliated man who has made a living out of disappointing his father, to finally, a woman picking over
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Joleene Naylor
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Jack Messenger is the author of several novels: Farewell Olympus , Take the Late Train , and Noah's Arc . After living in deepest France for eight years, he exchanged self-sufficiency in fruit and veg for a life of glamour and greyhounds in Nottingham, UK, and is thus more than qualified to write about culture shock and miscommunication. A life-long reader and writer, and a successful aut ...more

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