Short Stories by Michael Botur
Published by Michael Botur, October 2018.
Reviewed by Paul Brooks
Don't try and compare Michael Botur with any other author.
The old promotional blurb: "If you liked ... you'll enjoy Michael Botur" just doesn't apply.
He's in a league of his own, but there's no denying he should be mainstream. Everyone should have access to this author's work.
His tales are gritty, gutsy and gripping ... there's no doubt you're inside the head of a master storyteller.
True? is a collection of stories, honed by the writer's skill to a jagged edge. From the street art styled cover to the content, this book - if you're reading Botur for the first time - is like no other.
I loved it. Wandering through stories, picking my way, arms outstretched, through the occasional dark passage, but finding bright linguistic gems winking in the gloom - "Instigating applause with frantic hummingbird hands" - there are dozens of such nuggets, scattered at random, each a precious moment.
First person, second person, third person, from different gender perspectives, Michael Botur's talent shows a skill broad, diverse and still very focused.
He has mastered the art of the short story, letting one sentence say so much, giving his word-people substance and keeping their dialogue (or monologue) true to character.
The authenticity is so scary, you wonder where this man has been and what demons followed him home. His stories - settings, plots and characters - have a strong whiff of reality. They are either well researched or the author has been there, making for an interesting juxtaposition of worlds: The one in which he writes and the pages he inhabits in his many alter egos.
I liked every story, discovering new things as each facet caught the light and flashed its gaudy meaning. The girl who sacrificed everything for her druggie boyfriend, "because she loved him". The boy and his dad who escape into the Aussie outback, away from alcohol, drugs and the threat of deportation, where the reader sees their humanity struggling to surface. When we see it, it's the normality that jars the most.
Who is Michael Botur and how does he do it?
How does he slip into the soul of a med student, employing vernacular so convincing you almost want to make an appointment? It's as if he astral travels into the lives of others and becomes them long enough to be able to write abot them, as them.
Don't anticipate happy endings, or any obvious conclusions. They're as unpredictable as they are entertaining. Just read and enjoy. Savour the tale, the language, the imagery and the privilege of being able to read them.