DANG, I WISH I HADN’T DONE THAT, our collection of 34 stories and poems from the Ageless Authors Writing Contest, just received a review from OnlineBookClub.org of 4 out of 4 stars.
“The initiative to put together the works of senior writers age 65 and older shows both courage and vision,” the reviewer said. “In time, it can pave the way for the development of a new literary field that would have a lot to gain from the wisdom and experience of seniority.
Further excerpts include: “What I absolutely loved about the book was the diversity of its topics and narrative strategies. Coming from different backgrounds, the senior authors featured in this collection are life-long professional writers as well as people who became dedicated to the craft in retirement. The book is divided into three main parts in accordance with the three sections of the contest: Military Memories, Dang, I Wish I Hadn’t Done That (Regrets), and Parents, For Better or Worse.
“Arranged by prize and honorable mention, all the stories and poems make up a remarkable collection reminiscent of classical anthologies. On the whole, the common thread of the book is not necessarily a feeling a nostalgia, but an awareness of the passage of time. Mostly writing in the first person, the senior authors ponder on past events with long-lasting consequences on their lives.
“The stories in the first part tackle the topic of war and the military from various perspectives. In The Bunker by Robert Swandby, the first-person narrator accurately describes the terrified North Vietnamese boy soldiers and denounces the insanity of shooting people he had never met before. By contrast, Marching to a Different Drummer by Gordon Smith features a WWII veteran who never lost his spirit of patriotism and respect for the national flag and his country. My favorite stories in this part were Refugee by Leah Rae Lake, Go Army! by Lynda Palmer, and I, The Ensign by Susan Lindsley. They all have female protagonists who are either forced to leave their home because of war or find their own identity by joining the military.
“Although entitled Dang, I Wish I Hadn’t Done That (Regrets), the second part has many surprisingly humorous stories such as The Klutzwit Gene by Geoffrey K. Graves, or Morning Thunder and The Babe in the Box by Richard Perreault. Each story is unique, and humor springs from the most unexpected situations (a Laurel and Hardy show of some original parents insisting on painting their house by themselves, the story of a man who thinks he is in bed with a dead woman, or the portrayal of a GPS as the perfect woman). However, the story I enjoyed the most was In the Midst of Life by Marc Hess. I have chosen it due to the interesting combination of grim irony and belated disappointment with past decisions. Paradoxically, the poem Words and When I Knew Them by Nancy Meyer impressed me even more than the stories as it deals with the sensitive topics of date rape, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion.
“Dedicated to family relations and their impact on children, the third part of the book is definitely eye-opening and thought-provoking. The stories pose different challenges and make you stop and think of how parents’ life choices affect their children’s future. If the protagonist in Maureen Kellen-Taylor’s story A Proper Mother is an example of courage and generosity, Jim’s wife in Plaques by Robert Nelis has to live with the consequences of putting her career before her children and marriage. For me, the best story in this part is Moon of the Popping Trees by Hugh Gardner, not accidentally awarded the first prize. At the same time metaphorical and realistic, it strikes with the parallel between the fracturing of the Sioux tribe and the moral degradation of the Merrycats, as they used to call the Americans.
“Despite the eclecticism of the stories and poems in this collection, the book is exquisitely edited. Without hesitation, I am giving it 4 out of 4 stars. Last but not least, I am recommending it to all those interested in reading stories and poems that rely on a variety of topics from love and friendship to war and broken relationships. Each author teaches a valuable lesson and skillfully stirs hidden emotions and feelings. I am looking forward to the next Ageless Authors contests. Finally, I hope that collecting the stories and poems in an anthology will become a wonderful tradition.