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Success: Stories

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Fiction. SUCCESS: STORIES is the 2008 winner of the Washington Writers' Publishing House fiction prize. These stories probe the lives of people caught in an increasingly intertwined world, close to home and abroad. Exploring a human calculus of love, betrayal, and fantasy, this moving collection makes those dramas vivid. "Gritty dialogue, lean prose, layered plotting, and an eye for the perfect detail make these stories a satisfying and engaging read"--Susan Muaddi Darraj. "A book of fine stories"--Richard Bausch.

210 pages, Paperback

First published October 15, 2008

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David A. Taylor

6 books16 followers

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5 stars
8 (44%)
4 stars
4 (22%)
3 stars
5 (27%)
2 stars
1 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
279 reviews8 followers
August 18, 2014
"Success:Stories" is a collection of 14 short stories with settings as diverse as Laurel Park racetrack in the early 1970's and a futuristic Bangkok where protocol is apparently everything. The stories vary in length from 4 pages to 28, but each story unfolds at its own pace. The characters wrestle with affairs, superstitions, love and survival. The writing is beautiful and you find yourself vividly watching the characters act out the dramas that Taylor has scripted.

Judging by the title, you probably think that the stories are a collection of uplifting feel-good tales. That's not the case. These are gritty stories of characters just struggling through life and just as in real life, they often make bad decisions. You probably won't like all of the protagonists and will most likely feel sorry for some of them. But I keep coming back to the prose, which draws you into these characters' lives.

Full Disclosure: I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.
Profile Image for Brendan.
614 reviews11 followers
December 10, 2014
I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program.

I'm torn on what to rate this. Probably 3 1/2 or 4.

There's plenty of variety here, with stories set in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, etc. Characters include government functionaries, clinical trial drug testers, Muslim villagers, and a deaf locksmith.

As others have mentioned, Taylor is skilled at dropping a reader into his stories. His characters seem real; their situations believable for the most part. There are stories here that I expect to linger with me: "Pelagro" and "Electrolysis", for example. Others, such as "May Day", missed the mark. The weaker stories are not necessarily bad stories, or poorly written, but they lack fulfillment. I would be left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling when finishing these pieces.
Profile Image for Theresa Feeser.
71 reviews3 followers
January 10, 2016
I received Success:Stories as a Goodreads Giveaway.

Short stories ask us to jump into a time or event in a person's life and take a peek and then move on. We often come away wanting to know more but not given the opportunity. How often this mimics life as people come in and out of our lives and impact us more or less. The stories in this book were like this. Some moved me to tears and others left me still a stranger. The writing is superb and the stories unusually diverse. Overall I felt despair in reading these short stories. The theme of success was not obvious but for most of us success is putting one foot in front of another and prevailing over the hardships in life. David Taylor does an excellent job of pointing this out in writing short stories that provide a small window into the soul of people just like you and I.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,418 reviews68 followers
August 24, 2014
3.5 Stars

I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
When I saw I had won this book I was very excited because it sounded very interesting. It was interesting but it didn't meet my expectations. The main thing that bothered me was this book is titled Success, but to me none of these stories were successful, they were all actually rather depressing. Luckily, each story was written extremely well and they were detailed to perfection. The author made it easy to lose yourself in each story and I often found myself wanting more. I had grown attached to these characters in a short time.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy short stories and anthologies. Also to those who don't mind depressing stories.
Profile Image for Mandel.
54 reviews
August 25, 2014
I received Success: Stories as a Goodreads first reads giveaway.

Success: Stories is a great collection of short stories. I thought they were all good, and there were some real gems. I particularly enjoyed Bottle, Counterfeit and Saigon Haircut.

David A. Taylor is one of those writers who is able to make you feel that you are with the people he is writing about. The steamy heat of Bangkok in Errand, and a bus ride from hell in Counterfeit come through very strongly.

My reviewing skills can't do this work justice.
53 reviews9 followers
November 20, 2014
I received this book from a Good Reads giveaway.

While the stories are beautifully written, I was frustrated that the characters change with every story. I did, however, enjoy the stories, and I found the characters to be relatively relatable. I would have given this more stars if I didn't have to learn new names, new characters, and figure out the stories every 20 or so pages.

This book would be loved by anyone who enjoys short stories.
Profile Image for Jess.
182 reviews19 followers
May 4, 2010
Read this for a book prize review... here's what I thought:

Taylor's stories grab you with their extreme attention to detail, and transport you to the place and time where the story takes place. His journalist's eye takes note of the colors, smells, voices, and feelings in a scene and re-paints them vividly so that you can feel the dirty, damp heat of a busy Bangkok street or the stinging, bracing plunge into a cold night ocean. He writes with sharp, lean prose and treats subjects that are at once exotic, and also recognizable because of the way they feel human emotions – fear, romance, and boredom – that we all know.

Some of Taylor's story-telling mechanisms feel forced; for example, a story opens with a character being transported back into memory by the sound of a letter opening, which sounds like a parachute, which reminds him of a memory of a romantic experience from his youth. Similarly, the situations themselves, while interesting, feel slightly worn: the disillusioned development worker, the weary lovers in a foreign land; they are people and situations that we've seen and Taylor doesn't always provide a fresh take or an insight on their humanity that makes you feel like they are real.

Also, the tight prose, which is one of Taylor's strengths, can verge on being so spare as to be confusing. If the confusion were for some effect, that would be one thing, but it doesn't seem to serve a purpose.

The stories look at the everyday tragedy of human life and provides a glimpse into our fallibility; the problem with Success:Stories, as I see it, is that Taylor's take is ironic without redemption. The title, Success: Stories pokes fun at the characters rather than empathizing, and this tenor resurfaces again and again, not in every story, but in many. The people in his stories are trapped in their beliefs, cultures, personal limitations, but as a reader, I wasn't able to identify with the characters, but rather felt like I was outside, looking in.
275 reviews4 followers
August 12, 2014
I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway. I found it OK. It's a collection of 14 short stories, exploring the lives of different types of people, their hopes and dreams and the realities of their daily lives. The stories are well-written. But there's a certain sense of hopelessness to everything. The characters all seem to be miserable people. Even the few bits of happiness that do show up come across as fleeting and illusory. Humour is all bitter and forced. It comes across as saying that life is suffering and that working for anything better is a waste of time. For me, that made it a less enjoyable reading experience.
Profile Image for Shirley.
33 reviews5 followers
April 15, 2015
"Success" by David A. Taylor is a collection of 14 short stories. The stories are set in different parts of the world and the characters are culturally diverse. The stories are rich in descriptiveness and are very realistic. An enjoyable read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. Thank you.
13 reviews
October 20, 2014
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway
I found the writing to be excellent but the stories seemed to flat line. I found myself rather confused at the end of most of the stories. I wouldn't recommend this book but I would give the author another try.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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