Alban Goulden, 140 pgs, Anvil Press, anvilpress.com, 18.00$
Alban Goulden provides a series of short stories set in Vancouver and the prairies. The stories centre on the subtle, crucial ways that these settings interact with the people who populate them. There’s a strong focus on technology and how it affects users that Goulden approaches in most of the stories.
For instance, ‘Like’ If You Get It is, perhaps about social media and the way that people build identity with it. These stories aren’t without their problems, as many of these read like someone who’s trying to make tech to be this unilaterally big, evil thing rather than targeting the few sites that have monopolized people’s psyche. The social commentary on tech and social media gets exhausting, especially when it keeps happening. After a few of the stories I was compelled with the need to shake Goulden and scream, “I get it! You don’t like technology, that doesn’t mean we need this many stories about why!!”
There’s also a few moments that left me uncomfortable, like when Goulden describes a Black character to be “black as African night” in Lie to Me or I’ll Panic, which was unnecessary. A build up of little things like this added up, reminding me of my dad telling me how he hates society, made it really hard to find these short stories convincing or exciting. Overall, Goulden had some interesting ideas but the execution wasn’t new and ended up sounding very recycled. (Sidney Drmay)