(Intentionally Blank) By ThomasMundt, 161 pgs.

This book of short stories is so wordy, so packed with prepositions, English 101 writerly words, pompous adjectives, and otherwise omit-able words it’s maddening. It’s also consumed by the author’s own perceived cleverness, which he projects onto the voices of his diverse variety of characters, making them not so diverse after all. I found it nearly impossible to read all the way through.

Out of a sense of duty, I managed only by reading completely on autopilot until the very end of its 161 pages. Occasionally, I tried line-reading it, noticing words I would delete. Finally, I got to the end, but I’ll be damned if I could tell you what a single one of the stories was about. I couldn’t stay present in them at all. Take this sentence for example: “they believe that because if you were not there to watch history happen than it did not happen but know that this is not true and we must go on about our business.” Definitely the worst sentence in the book but not by much. You could open anywhere and find a similar monstrosity of the English language. If that’s not enough, there’s little dialogue, arc of story, or even plot. Many of the stories seem like someone sketching out a character to put in a story. And sketching. And sketching. And sketching! And then it’s over. No story.

Still, as maddening and amateurish as Intentionally Blank seemed to me, Mundt is a pro. I was shocked to find Tolsun Books is not a vanity press. Also, every one of these twenty-two stories was published somewhere else before collected here. I guess the joke’s on me. –Craven Rock (Tolsun Press)

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