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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Mementos by Theodore Jerome Cohen is a compilation of original flash fiction and short stories, and book four in the author's series, Mementos Anthologies. Using stock photography and photographs taken by others that depict a scene or a person as a prompt, Cohen weaves bite-sized tales ranging from the tragic, such as Bubbles, where a family photo from a day at a funfair preserves a heart-breaking moment in time, and Gate Six, where a mother waits for her husband to disembark from a plane that will never arrive. Others elicit a laugh, such as Cactus, the story of a couple who are definitely not taking the high road.
Mementos offers a total of thirty-nine stories in all, each easy enough and short enough to read in those precious moments of calm in lives that are usually moving from one personal commotion to the next. My favorite is the flash fiction Stir, a tale that begins with a man dedicated to his annual entry to a chili competition, absolutely certain he will make a memorable mark on the judges and revealing the “important day” that will ultimately be memorable for entirely different reasons. I enjoyed the use of pictures and the benefit of stock is crystal clear where images feature the work of K.S. Brooks in Snap and the monochrome vintage photograph of a woman writing Her Last Christmas Letter preempts a story formatted as the same. The writing is clean and Theodore Jerome Cohen is incredibly adept at developing characters and scenery in a tight space, consistently delivering quality, thought-provoking fiction.