Duck For Cover & Other Tales: A Collection Of Short Stories by Barbara Venkataraman

Duck For Cover & Other Tales: A Collection Of Short Stories by Barbara Venkataraman
Publisher: Next Chapter
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Fourteen short stories with a twist, Duck for Cover & Other Tales is filled with surprises.

The Yes Man is about a woman who looks after her elderly father with dementia, only to discover he still has life lessons to teach her. Living My Best Life tells the story of an aging rock star who finds his legacy lives on in a way he hadn’t imagined. Thicker Than Blood is about the dilemmas caused by modern technology when a trio of siblings is asked to make the hardest decision of their lives. The Devil’s Workshop is the story of a young man being scared straight from a life of delinquency by a clever probation officer and an ex-con.

Topical, relatable and just plain fun, these and many other stories in this collection deal with friendship, kinship and the complexities of the modern world, and are sure to leave you with a smile.

Even the most ordinary days can be filled with adventure if you know where to look.

Since the premise of “The Yes Man” was already shared in the blurb, I’ll jump straight into my thoughts about it. Dementia isn’t talked about enough in fiction in my experience, so I was excited to read a story about a family dealing with it here. Grief, love, and perseverance were soaked into every scene. What surprised me was how the author snuck in some humor, too. There is definitely something to be said for making the best of a tough situation, and I enjoyed seeing how that idea played out for these characters.

All of the tales in this collection were nearly short enough to be flash fiction. Some were only a couple of pages long, and most of the others were only a little longer than that. I’m sharing this so that others will understand just how impressive it was for Ms. Venkataraman to create those nuanced little worlds fourteen times in a row in such a small amount of space for each one. “From the Jaws of Victory” was a tale about a young woman named Lorelei who changed her name and appearance in order to get revenge for her father who lost his life savings in a business deal gone bad. I was immediately immersed in Lorelei’s painstaking plan to make things right again, and it took me until right before the final paragraph to figure out what sort of surprise might be coming her way.

“See You at the Movies” explored the warm, loving, but slightly mysterious relationship between Sean and his grandfather. Just like in several of the other sections, there was a mystery element to the plot that was subtle enough to feel like it could happen in real life to nearly anyone. It’s best if I allow other readers to discover for themselves why Sean was suddenly so sentimental about the many films they had watched together over the years, but I thought the bond between this grandfather and grandson was delightful.

Duck For Cover & Other Tales: A Collection Of Short Stories made me yearn for more and catapulted this author to my must-read list. It’s perfect just the way it is!


  1. Barbara Venkataraman says

    Thank you for the wonderful review, I’m so glad you enjoyed my stories. 😀

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