Whanganui Midweek - 2021-06-09


Short stories a real gem


Of Other Lives Stories by Michael Rudge 2019 Reviewed by Paul Brooks Of Other Lives is a collection of 23 short stories by acclaimed writer Michael Rudge. This is his second such collection and reading it has inspired me to track down the first book. Michael Rudge tells a story that will draw you in, entrap you and not let you leave until the final full stop. That applies to every story in the book, and they are all very different. First person, third person, from a distance, up close, through their eyes . . . this author has mastered the art of telling a great story. Many can write in first person, but Michael Rudge does it with the ring of autobiographical truth, such is the depth of his research, knowledge and feeling for the character. He writes with intelligence, insight and a full understanding of his subjects and characters. There is detail, emotion, a plot, of course, but there is more. There is something to be learned from each tale: Not so much a moral but something to take away and ponder upon. It is what makes these stories so utterly readable, over and over again. The author involves himself emotionally with each story, giving more than mere words on a page. As an academic can remove himself from the subject of his thesis, Michael does the opposite, inserting himself, taking risks and making personal sacrifices to tell the story. And he can do that with sympathy as well as humour. Some stories will make you laugh out loud; others will give you ideas of your own; others will give you pause to reflect. Michael Rudge has written stories that take us to some interesting places, some dark, some light, some just a place you never thought you’d want to go, but you do go, willingly. He has things to say and uses the odd story as a vehicle, not as a pulpit, but the message is clear enough. Some stories are just entertaining, and if there was a message, I missed it but enjoyed the story just the same. The point is, I really enjoyed reading Of Other Lives, and I look forward to reading the previous book and those to come. Of Other Lives is available through Paige’s Book Gallery in Guyton St, Whanganui.


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