Title: The Ways of the World
Author: Dominick McIver
Type: Short Stories
“To be human is to possess a brain-computer that is useful in recognising patterns. The problem lies in our undiscriminating nature during this process. Most times, the comparable situations we find ourselves in have no deliberate design, but our fascination with coincidences leads us to believe in an illusory sense of both order and control.”
The Ways of the World is a collection of short stories which depict ordinary people who encounter various cultural and social themes in their respective chapters. Comprising of five stories which span just 38 pages, this short but sweet collection aims to make the reader think about the characters’ encounters and what that means for them.
The main issue I had with the book is that it was just too short – I like writing being concise, why shouldn’t everyone strive to say what they want in as few words as possible? However, I think 38 pages may be taking it a little too far. What this book was seriously lacking in was any clarity; it would have helped to have, for example, year and location stamps at the beginning of each story so the reader was given some context as to who they would be reading about. Alas, instead, the reader is given nothing of the sort and then is thrown in at the deep end, helplessly trying to comprehend the story and its significance.
I do think that McIver is a talented writer and his penchant for descriptive and intricate sentences did make the overall narrative feel more sophisticated, however, I think all the storytelling got lost in this because it was hard to grasp what the characters were doing. Even on a page-by-page basis I struggled to work out any actions the character had taken without re-reading the passage.
As this collection was inspired by another (as stated on the cover) I fear McIver got too lost in trying to rehash someone else’s work – though having not read The Ways of White Folks, this may not be the case, just a guess based off what I’ve gauged from this book. Perhaps his work would be more impactful if it was something completely separate from anyone else and wholly his own?
Overall, The Ways of the World was an interesting and unique collection, but I do think it was lacking clarity. I liked McIver’s writing style, but his storytelling ability left something to be desired. With some more fleshing out and a deeper character narrative, these stories could have been exceptional, but I’m afraid, without this, they missed the mark.