Love financial fiction? So do I. And I review them for you!
In this post I’m reviewing…
Cracks In The Ceiling by Dave Cornford
Short stories exploring the aftermath of the global financial meltdown.
REVIEW: When I read a novel, I want an engaging start, a tense middle, and a cathartic ending. But when I read short stories, my personal preference is for stories that are short, introspective, and even a little gloomy. And I’m totally fine if the stories don’t “end” (in the same cathartic way a novel should end). That is what Cornford delivers. His 11 stories are almost like slices of life, as if we are glimpsing the various lives of people impacted by the financial crisis in some way. What is interesting about Cornford’s writing is not necessarily his exploration of the financial part of financial fiction, but of the larger themes of life. Specifically, Cornford’s concept of “home” is explored in-depth in many (or most?) of his stories. Each story seems to be a glimpse into how one person (or family or group) handles the “new normal” of today’s financial turbulence. The stories don’t end in a neat and tidy bow… and sometimes they don’t end at all… which is just the way I like it. Here’s a sampling of a couple of his stories:
- A Day at the Top: The thoughts and feelings of a CEO whose personal and professional life is starting to suffer from the crisis. This almost feels like a diary entry and I like that it puts a personal (and even occasionally sympathetic) face to the oft-vilified CEOs of The Great Recession.
- Threadbare: The story of someone who was impacted not necessarily by the loss of money as he was impacted by the loss of his family and close friend.
- Lost: This is the story of a commuter who loses his iPod… but occasionally hears the music when his Bluetooth headphones pair with the stolen iPod. ‘Lost’ was my favorite story of the collection and the ending is absolutely brilliant.
FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: When I first read Cornford’s book, I was initially puzzled by what I felt to be a lack of financial fiction… in the strictest sense of the definition. You won’t find stories about high-powered brokers moving millions of dollars around the world (which is what I like about financial fiction). But as I continued reading story after story, the larger themes became evident: These WERE financial fiction stories… but they were financial fiction stories on the “opposite side” of the news. They are the stories that remain untold when the headlines scream “bank closes” or “large corporation lays off employees”. The two stories that, in my opinion, had the largest quotient of financial fiction were…
- The Tipping Competition: This story explored the struggles that employees face when they learn about the changes that will take place at work.
- The Project: This story nicely captures a kind financial act (albeit a dangerous one!) that one employee does for a struggling coworker. This was my second-favorite story of the bunch.
SUMMARY: At first, the stories in Cornford’s Cracks In the Ceiling don’t seem to be about financial fiction. Until it hits you that these stories are indeed financial fiction… from a real life perspective. Cracks In the Ceiling gives readers a glimpse into the struggles of the ‘everyman’ and ‘everywoman’ whose lives have been impacted in some way by the financial crisis.
DISCLOSURE: Dave Cornford provided me with a free copy of his book for review purposes.