by Ben Stroud


In this debut collection of stories, Ben Stroud demonstrates an amazing versatility, creating completely believable characters in a variety of contemporary and historical settings. Stroud takes us from 19th century Berlin to present day East Texas to the ancient city of Byzantium. To give you an idea of the range depicted, here are some of my favorites: “The Don’s Cinnamon,” in which the expatriate son of a plantation owner and a slave sets up shop as a detective in Havana, “The Traitor of Zion,” a story of disillusionment set in a religious commune on Lake Michigan, and “Eraser,” which gets inside the head of a 12-year-old boy who fantasizes about ever more extreme ways to gain the attention of his mother and escape his abusive stepfather. Regardless of the period and setting, each story works on its own terms. I’ll look forward to seeing where Stroud goes from here.

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