March 5, 2016

Review: The Boston Ranter: Slanted Vignettes from a Native New Englander by Layden Robinson

Title: The Boston Ranter: Slanted Vignettes from a Native Englander

Author: Layden Robinson

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 85

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.


This autobiographical novella was inspired by my life growing up in New England. Comedic, dramatic and quite revealing. This latest title will truly explain why I am the raving lunatic I am today.


I'm always up for a short and quirky read. The number of pages appealed to my first demand, and if a cover can tell us things about the book, then this cover appealed to my second demand. But the first question that comes to mind about The Boston Ranter is whether this is a short story collection or a novella, as the summary promises. Would it be some sketch-like stories or would a central plot exist? Is it the story of the author's life, or is it a work of fiction? To be honest, I was kind of confused. I can understand if the author changed the names of the people he mentioned in the stories, but I never figured out if the incidents he described actually happened.

To answer my first question, this is a short story collection. In fact, there are 37 chapters in this book all dealing with different subjects. But there is no way I could see The Boston Ranter as a novella. I'm not sure if describing those chapters as short stories would be alright. Vignettes is definitely a more fitting word. In each chapter the author shares a certain memory, but most of the times the stories don't lead anywhere.

This leads to my next question: is it fiction or not? There is definitely a very particular point of view and some of the characters appear again and again. The way that the stories are written makes you think that these are things that have actually happened. At least, I hope so. In that way, I could forgive that there is no structure in the stories. Most of the times there is neither a beginning nor an ending.

The writing style is vivid and it actually makes The Boston Ranter an easy book to read. The author tries to bring the particular accent of Massachusetts is his writing, but the result isn't always as pleasant or as funny as it tried to be. There are also some profanities, which don't really bother me, but I know that some readers find disturbing. Lastly, there are smileys in a couple of chapters. I didn't mind, but I couldn't explain either the need for their existence in the text.

The Boston Ranter is indeed a quick and easy read. If you can pass the fact that there isn't a central plot and you don't have any problems with the profanities, then you could give it a try. At least, some of the stories are entertaining.

This counts as a self-published book for the 2016 Reading Challenge.

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