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Having read and reviewed two of Mike Russell‘s books in the past (Magic and The Man Whose Wife Was The Moon), I am excited to be reviewing his newest book today: Strange Concentrate. I was kindly provided with an e-book copy from the publisher, StrangeBooks. Let’s dive into this fascinating read!
About Strange Concentrate
Strange Concentrate is a collection of short stories by Mike Russell – and by short I mean really short! Most of the stories are between 2 and 5 pages long, a few are longer (maybe 10 pages max) and some are only 1 page or even just a few lines!
At the beginning of the book is written, “Each story is short enough to be read on an elevator ride to the top of a very low building, yet powerful enough to stay with you long after the building has fallen down.” As this quote from Mike Russell suggests, the stories are written to be impactful and they have a message or meaning of some sort.
My experience reading Strange Concentrate
I think the title suits the book well because the stories are indeed strange, and this strangeness is concentrated into short units. Having read Mike Russell’s writing before, I was expecting this as his other books were also strange and bizarre. I think the cover image reflects this too as each of the stories is a bit of an eye-opener!
The stories did stay with me – some were thought-provoking and had a clear message behind them. Others I didn’t really understand, and I wasn’t sure if there was a hidden meaning that I just hadn’t grasped, or if they were just random or abstract. Some of the stories were quite disturbing, whereas others were amusing (e.g. The Transcendental Trumpet Note, in which the lyrics to a well-known song are replaced to make the song all about celery – funny to read!) The last story, ‘The Message’ was pretty cool, and it got me thinking to try and understand it.
The short length of the stories meant that overall, the book is quite short and it didn’t take me long to read. I read the whole book in under an hour total, across two or three different reading sessions. However, it is the kind of book you could read over a longer period of time, dipping in and out or just reading one story at a time.
The book reminded me of another book of short stories I reviewed: Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell. The stories in that book were of a similar length to those in Strange Concentrate, but there were themes and characters that recurred throughout the book. In Strange Concentrate, by contrast, the stories all stand alone – there is no obvious link between them.
Would I recommend Strange Concentrate?
This collection of short stories is certainly an interesting read. Despite being thought-provoking, the stories are actually very easy to read – it’s not a heavy book at all. I found the stories entertaining because of their strangeness and surprise factor, even the ones that I didn’t grasp the meaning of. If you want a quick and easy read that will take your mind in unexpected directions, I would recommend checking out Strange Concentrate.