Verdict: Ultimately, Love & Darts is not a successful short story collection, but it does address important issues. While these stories are not very strong, they provide readers with the complexities of the American condition.
Nath Jones‘ Love & Darts, a collection of twenty-four stories, gives readers an insight into the anxieties of the heartland of the United States today.
In Jones’ stories, we meet individuals whose struggles are defined by the conflict that exists between their very real problems the deaths and illnesses of loved ones, loneliness, unemploymentand their unattainable American Dreams. While I admire Jones’ efforts to portray the dynamic human condition of our country today, I do not think that she succeeds in accomplishing what ought to be her main goal: to write a collection of strong, dynamic stories.
Love & Darts, while functional as an impressionistic portrayal of the issues that many Americans must face, does not provide readers with stories that are complete or complex. Jones’ stories lack depth. We are unable to spend the time we would like to with characters, as most of the stories are vignettes, if not lists (Character Sketch, 1997, Limbic Resonance: Responses to a Match.com Questionnaire). The stories cannot stand on their own, as the language, though beautiful on rare occasions, is not strong enough to support their brevity.
In her introduction, Jones explains that she wants to select structural assumptions from different cultural niches and present them together in one collection of stories. Indeed, the collection feels more like an experimental exploration of certain issues than a serious consideration of characters distinctive stories. But even in her experimenting, Jones is not successful. Story arcs repeat, as do narrative styles and voices. The result is not so much a mosaic as a small collection of short stories that repeat over and over. Low-level problems within the writing, such as over-hyphenated phrases, fragments, and abrupt changes in points of view, make the reading experience even less enjoyable.
Ultimately, Love & Darts is not a successful short story collection, but it does address important issues. Jones has a good sense of the emotional core of everyday situations, and of the social and cultural factors that drive so many of these emotions. While these stories are not very strong, they provide readers with the complexities of the American condition.
Reviewed by Elisa Fernández-Arias for IndieReader