Thursday, 22 April 2021

Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand: Poems and Stories - Stephen J. Golds

 
An aging hitman is embittered by his career choice at the point of no return. A shell-shocked soldier in World War Two finds hope through death, reflected in the eyes of his enemy. A serial killer confesses in veiled, lurching prose. A mobster unravels at the zero hour of this mortal coil. A man reevaluates existence after discovering a suicide. These are some of the twenty-nine dark, twisted, and gritty stories by Stephen J. Golds collected here for the first time — bound taut with thirty poems of loss, love, and other thoughts that haunt you after last call.


What did I think?

WOW!  This short story and poetry collection from Stephen J. Golds absolutely blew me away.  I have to be honest and say that I'm not a fan of short stories (or indeed poetry) as they always seem incomplete and leave me feeling unsatisfied.  So why did I read this book, I hear you say.  Well simply because I am a huge fan of Stephen J. Golds unique writing; it has such an inimitable vintage noir quality that continually makes my jaw drop.  If all short stories were like these, I'd definitely be a fan!  

With such a varied range of characters and settings, Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand is an exquisite collection of exceptional short stories.  Stories that are often chilling but filled with emotion and stunning visual depictions.  I found myself comparing Stephen J. Golds' written word to Quentin Tarantino's movies - they are both masters at depicting violence in an artistic way but I have to say that the book is better.  Golds easily kicks Tarantino's ass!

The final 10% of the book is made up of poems but I've never been able to grasp poetry and unfortunately I still don't get it.  As much as it felt completely alien to me, I could still appreciate and marvel at the quality of the writing.  I'm sure Stephen J. Golds could make his shopping list appear dark, sinister and lyrical.

What is amazing about this collection is that the quality of the stories doesn't waiver at all.  The bar is set extremely high from the start and it doesn't dip at all; every single story is outstanding and that's no mean feat as there are 29 stories in the book.  Even with a gun to my head, I wouldn't be able to pick a favourite from among them as I loved them all and I'll definitely be rereading them again.

Dark, chilling, gritty and exquisitely written, Love Like Bleeding Out with an Empty Gun in Your Hand is the best collection of short stories I have ever read.   Incredibly highly recommended and well deserving of nothing less than 5 stars for this magnificent collection.

Many thanks to Stephen J. Golds for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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