Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Theodore Jerome Cohen's eclectic Mementos (A Unique Collection of Short Stories & Flash Fiction, Book 3) reflects on both ordinary and extraordinary situations from the perspectives of diverse characters. In its first entry, ‘Devil’s Horns’, a father and son survey the fire damage to the family’s property in central California while searching and hoping that a missing family member and their dog will turn up soon. ‘Sportscaster’ is about a young radio sports commentator in the mid-1930s who would be eventually known as the influential voice of modern conservatism decades later. Literary and poetry enthusiasts will appreciate ‘The Lamplighter’ as a man reminisces about his deceased father, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems that he read to and discussed with his son before bedtime. One of the poems is a metaphor for the bond they had before he passed away.
The beauty of the violin and the spirit of Christmas are internalized in ‘Foliage’ and ‘The Old Man’ - brief insights into Cohen’s own life including his eldest daughter. Epitomizing the reality of our world today, 'ICU' is about a patient who asks his friend for a favor just in case he doesn’t make it. “I knew the dame was bad news the second she walked into my second-floor office.” Nostalgic, cynical, and fun, 'Film Noir' will delight fans of the genre; it reminds me of the old radio series 'The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective'. As ‘Idyllic’ ends the collection on a beautiful but melancholic note, this wonderfully narrated compendium is filled with intriguing photos and endnotes providing information in true Theodore Jerome Cohen style. Mementos is truly another treasure trove of stories that encapsulate a panoply of human complexity, a gratifying gift of short and flash fiction from Cohen to his long-time fans.