Love is Make-Believe, by Riham Adly

Love is Make-Believe by Riham Adly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was approached directly by the author, Riham Adly, who told me about her collection of “Flash fiction” – something I hadn’t heard about before.

In Riham’s own words: “Flash is so flexible, it sometimes reads like a traditional short and sometimes like a poem with a narrative arc and sometimes it’s very experimental; it lends structure from other forms like menus, lists. It’s a new experience.”

My interest immediately rose. A new form, a new voice! From Egypt! How could I resist that?

So, first of all, Riham, thank you for the chance to read your collection! I really appreciate it.

Riham quickly convinced me that she is in full command of her chosen language. Sadly, I couldn’t warm up to the Flash fiction form she chose and (some of) the content.

Many of the short stories presented in this collections were confusing to me and, oftentimes, felt rather heavy-handed:

»I beat in the flour. Too much force −like when a man beats inside a woman against her will− is no good.«

We’re in agreement that any form of (sexualised) violence is completely unacceptable; I just believe that there are better ways to express that.

Then again, there were stories that – in part at least – felt like mad ramblings:

»Aloneness is a lotus not a rose, that neither blooms, nor withers. And here we go again, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9…..«

There were some funny stories interspersed that made me read on, e. g. “Re-ham” certainly made me smile. A few others at least captured my interest like “Gretel’s Bread” but left me wanting.

I have had fair “warning” by Riham from the very beginning, though: “If the first story or two don’t interest you, then don’t bother with it.”

So I’d like to suggest a slightly different approach: From each section (e. g. “The Changelings”, “The Blues”, etc.) pick one or two stories and read those. If you’re unconvinced, stop reading.
If you’re still interested, though, keep reading – you’re giving a new voice a chance and you might find something new for yourself to like.

For me, it will have to be three stars out of five with encouragement to keep writing!

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