Tag Archives: harpers ferry

Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings: A more or less interconnected collection of short stories about Jason, a boy growing up in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I decided to read this out of a love for that particular area of the country, but was soon turned off by the characters themselves. Now, characters don’t necessarily need to be likable (if they did, no one would ever read Faulkner), but I found Jason to be a spiteful little bully without any real compassion. This was not helped by the lack of resolution in most of the stories; none of the characters ever seemed to change. Now, there’s a distinct possibility that I’m misinterpreting; the scenes are capably written, even if they don’t seem to go anywhere. The Scratchboard Project was probably my favorite: the characters aren’t pointlessly cruel to each other, and I found Shanice interesting and complex. All the same, I found the rest of this slim volume a bit of a struggle. Perhaps I would enjoy Cummings’s longer fiction better.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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