Your Ad Here

Mindjack Magazine main | archive | about us | feedback


Wonders of the Invisible World

The Wonders of the Invisible World
by David Gates

reviewed by J.M. Frank

A good test when deciding the importance of a collection of short stories is to flip back to the table of contents just after completing the book and see how much you can recall about each story in the collection. You may find some collections that leave such an impact that years later each story can be remembered in vivid detail, while other collections leave surprisingly little trace, even moments after reading them. The Wonders of the Invisible World fails this test. The stories, plots, and characters all end up blending together into a not very memorable melting pot of yuppie life.

The stories in this collection do pass an even more basic test: the "readability" test. The stories flowed easily and were involving enough to keep the reader interested in continuing. The stories are technically well-crafted and filled with humor, social subtleties, and character complexities. The text was readable yet rich with layers, with Gates having a particular gift for realistic dialog. The situations are interesting enough to make the reader want to know how the story will end. But each one ended in a minor disappointment, ultimately leaving the reader with very little emotional impact.

The characters also became mildly annoying over time. Whether male or female, straight or gay, all the inhabitants of Gates’ worlds seem to come from the same mold. Bright, educated, and confused, they like jazz and classical music, know their art, read classic books, watch PBS (if they watch TV at all), and cook from scratch. They almost always have trouble with relationships. They cheat, provoke fights, and have other minor vices. None are likable. However, none are dislikable enough to motivate the reader against them. Perhaps these stories work better as individual pieces, with the reader taking a long break between reading each one. Otherwise, the characters and dilemmas are so similar as to blend together, almost like renting a stack of Woody Allen videotapes and watching "Manhattan", "Annie Hall", and "Hannah and Her Sisters" all in a row. After a while, you just can’t stand hearing about any more neurotic yuppies and their self-destructive relationships.

And so it is with this collection, though Gates’ characters and stories get tiresome much quicker than those in a Woody Allen movie. And unlike Gates’ stories, Allen’s movies, at least, are memorable


buy this book at

The writer of this article welcomes your comments: