Book Review: Dictionary Stories by Jez Burrows

Dictionary Stories by Jez Burrows is a unique book that just came out this year. This entire book was written using only example sentences from one of twelve different dictionaries. I thought this was a really cool experiment that sounded nearly impossible to pull off. I just had to see how he did it.

Overview

Title: Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings

Author: Jez Burrows

Published Year: 2018

My Overall Rating: 3/5 (If asked I would tell someone they might like this book and should check it out.)

Who Should Read it?

I would recommend this book to anyone who has small snippets of time in which to read.  Most of the stories are less than a page long. It would be a great read at the bus stop, in a waiting room, or on a short lunch break. I think you would enjoy it if you like dry and dark humor as well.

Thoughts

This book was a series of flash fiction pieces (159 by my count). Naturally, I liked some and others not so much. Some of the stories were funny while others were ominous and mysterious. I found that the titles were key to understanding many of the pieces. Combining sentences plucked from dictionaries often produced odd results, which occasionally verged on nonsense. At times I had trouble following or didn’t think the stories had a whole lot of flow to them. Some of my favorite ‘stories’ were actually lists he pulled together. Many of the lists were strings of related thoughts with something else random thrown in for a bit of humor.

Overall I was impressed by Burrows’s ability to string these random found sentences together to form a coherent story or amusing list. Not every story here is for everybody, and that’s ok. This book is a quick and amusing read.

My Main Take-Away

After reading some of these stories, I was surprised at some of the sentences Burrows found as examples in the dictionary.

He can be a cantankerous old fossil at times (8).

The contact will identify himself simply as Cobra (44).

In cocktail lounges all over town convenes the daily meeting of the ain’t-it-awful club (108).

I had no idea how interesting of a read the dictionary could be. Seemingly, dictionary sentences can serve as great inspiration if you’re looking for a unique writing prompt.

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