Monday, November 8, 2010

"Peaches and Cream" by W. E. Mueller - A Sweet Read

Peaches and Cream, W. E. "Bill" Mueller's eclectic short story collection, is an unusual combination of stories written in a variety of voices--some in third person, others in first--but all well told and entertaining. The time periods range from the 1940s to present day. The settings are also diverse: St. Louis, Hollywood, rural Missouri, and Wisconsin.

The most "connected" stories in the collection are set in metro-St. Louis in the late 1940s. Readers will soak up the atmosphere with references to famous St. Louis sports legends and infamous mobsters from years gone by, as well as long-gone landmarks such Sportsman Park and Coral Courts Motel.

The centerpiece character for many of the stories is St. Louis PI Zach Bannister, whose snappy voice as a savvy yet soft-hearted PI is reason enough to read the book.

In the opening story, "Peaches and Cream," Bannister is visited by former Central High School Classmates (Class of '37), identical twins Helen and Betty Braun. The twins are now strippers Peaches and Cream, who perform at the Stardust Club. The Braun sisters are in a fix and need Zach's help, but they are also smart cookies who are more than puffy hair, shiny sequins, and high heels.

"Working the Crosswood," another memorable and clever Zach Bannister story, won first place in The Writer magazine contest--and after reading the story I can see why it was the winner.

The compelling tale "Hollywood and Vine," formerly published by Lindenwood University's literary magazine, Untamed Ink, features down-on-his-luck, sickly ex-actor Charlie MacTaggert. Charlie Mac, as he is known, has a weakness for demon Rum. He uses his special gift when he performs for tourists on streetcorners, or maybe his gift is not so special after all.

"From my Warehouse," the final story in the collection, is a coming-of-age tale told from the first-person viewpoint of a lonely boy whose Sunday visits to his grandparents' home bring special meaning to his life. It is a touching story about love and loss.

Award-winning writer W. E. Mueller's lively short story collection brims with crisp dialogue, vivid and unique descriptions, unusual and memorable characters, raw emotion, and compelling voices.

While the book's black and orange cover is clever and appealing, don't be misled by the image of long-legged ladies performing on a stripper pole. Peaches and Cream, published by High Hill Press, is not a bawdy book about hookers and harlots or hard-hearted Hannahs. It is an entertaining collection of well written short stories that uplifts and takes the reader to another era. Peaches and Cream, by award-winning writer W.E. Mueller, is a sweet read.

Note: Bill and I belong to the same critique group. I always look forward to listening to his stories, and was thrilled when his publisher offered to let me review "Peaches and Cream."I hope to read more Zach Bannister stories in a future collection.

Another Note: Watch for my two-part interview of Bill later this week.

7 comments:

  1. Great post and review, Donna! That Bill certainly is a pistol! :D

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  2. I think I'll check out Zack Bannister. Thanks for the tip.

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  3. I am getting so many reading leads from you St. Louis gas that I can't keep up! This one sounds good too!

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  4. I read it and it was very entertaining.

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  5. I would agree with you, Donna. I have a copy of the book and even though I am not usually drawn to detective tales, I find Bill's stories engaging.

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  6. I'll look forward to the interview. Thanks, Donna!

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  7. Hi All,
    Thanks for your comments. Bill e-mailed and thanked me for the review and everyone who posted comments.
    Donna

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