Indies Today review of “Nothing Short of Odd”

Indies Today Recommended

“An unconventional collection that serves as fuel to imagination’s fire.”

Nicky Flowers for Indies Today on April 1, 2024 ★★★★★

When a story is evocative, the words elicit strong emotions and vivid images. Every one of the sixteen stories in Nothing Short of Odd has that powerful effect. A casual collection of short and flash fiction by Loredano Cafaro, the stories each possess a different personality and a distinct ambiance. At first glance, little ties these tales together, though there are a few recurring themes such as confronting loss, clinging to fading memories of our bygone years, and fleeting moments of contentment. Upon reflection, smaller elements also repeatedly figure into the collection such as rainy nights, comfy armchairs, and the time on a clock. Seemingly insignificant, these disparate elements share a connection through the subtle threads of familiarity or comfort they draw up. They also generate an unforgettable ambiance that readers can see themselves within. The liminal town of Pratonero is one such case, a haunting fictional place with an atmosphere somewhere between hazy nightmares and wide-eyed wakefulness.

Loredano Cafaro consistently brings each story to life with an articulate composition that moves in unexpected directions. Nonetheless, with such discordant themes and writing styles, it’s a challenge to pinpoint the most appreciative audience for such an eclectic collection. Fortunately, if you aren’t looking for a story about grieving, you can skip to a terror-filled tale, or keep moving until you land on a more hopeful plotline. The Fourth Tale is only a few moments in a life, but manages to achieve poignancy in under a dozen pages. Even without context, certain passages resonate with increasing fervor, such as “Day after day, the man continued to die.” Perhaps the most chilling, The Maker of Crèches, is a nauseatingly disturbing and graphic story about a holiday-themed serial killer. While some of the stories feel fragmented or unfinished, others develop an emotionally complete storyline. Another Sun is the best example, introducing readers to a bereft man at a graveside scene. We learn so much about his personality as he appreciates a beautiful sunset. Character depth and his humorous disposition come into focus when the comic-book-loving man says, “Imagine how nice it would be if there were two suns like on Tatooine.” Swaying from frenetic fever dream to lyrical drifting, Nothing Short of Odd is an unconventional collection that serves as fuel to imagination’s fire.

Read the review on Indies Today.

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