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A Drifter's Legacy: Short Stories from the Highlands and Lowlands [Paperback]

Eddie Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Jun 2003
As given in the title, this is collection of short stories. The period covered is from World War Two to the present day and spans the genres of romance, crime and life. The thread running through most of them is whisky, in particular the price of over-indulgence. Most of the stories have a twist which is usually unexpected, thus refreshing.

The first title, GULF is a tale of our times. A young American lass puts a message in a bottle as part of a class project and years later it fetches up on a wild Highland beach in Scotland. What develops is both a charming and ironical story made more so by the use of dialect. This at no time compromises understanding and the lilt and cadence is implicit in the reading. If you have ever visited the Highlands of Scotland, you'll find this akin to a return trip.

ORRA LOON tells the poignant story of a young orphan's search for identity in an unjust world.

BONNY IN BLACK relates the story of John, an adolescent low in self-esteem who nevertheless accomplishes much by dilligence. As the cooper reaches adulthood, he marries Mary and finds work at a distillery. Becoming too fond of the product and at odds with Mary's family, he resolves his difficulties in an ultimately destructive way. In this story the characterisation is drawn very finely. Bruce has the knack of sketching with economy, no extraneous puff and every word counting.

In TARRADALE'S OPTION rural life in Scotland comes to the fore with this tale of poaching, peat, love and gentle revenge. Written in low-key style, the last line comes as a shock, yet provokes laughter. Oh, how cruel!!

With INSULATED CONDUCTOR Bruce moves to London and to a fly-boy with street cred who works as an inspector hunting down employee fraud for London Transport Buses. Here I'd guess the author knows his job since his description of people, attitudes, routes and scams is spot on. Romance gets in the way of the job, but how is Gina creaming London Transport? I'll leave you to find out; the lady is ingenious.

Still in London, POTHOLES AND SPEED brings Duncan who is trying to build up his road haulage company and avoid crooked associations. For self-starters in this business, it's always difficult. It fell off the back of a lorry has been a cliche since they were invented. Again Bruce's ear for dialogue and dialect comes to the fore; he has the argot in the right sequences. Guys and Dolls it aint; this is realspeak to be heard anywhere on the streets of the capital. Does Duncan escape? Find out.

More of Duncan in DODGY NIGHT OUT. Cleverly observed, this is a vignette of how ordinary people react outside the boom and bang of Hallywood treatments.

FRIENDLY FIRE is set in Jersey. Although the island is part of the United Kingdom it's still a land of ex-pats, a kind of miniature Happy Valley where sun, sex, adultery and money all contribute to the melee and can lead to a crime passionel. A hotpot of mistaken motives and deeds with a kick at the end.

Don't get friendly with Jim, the FIXER. This is a health warning. A truly creepy and sinister story that would have delighted Poe if he'd been around today. This is a particular gem because it's very difficult in a short story to convey the ideas and emotions propelling the plot. Bruce achieves this, far more than adequately, by crafting each word and wasting none.

With RECEIVER we're back in London and listening to a conversation between an older and younger woman. It isn't until the last few sentences it becomes clear the dialogue you've read is full of reverses and euphemisms for what is really happening. An amusing tale of a biter, bit.

BOOKIE'S RUNNER is a period piece which describes the activities of a man with hopes for the future who collects bets to back horses, dogs or whatever is running.

JERUSALEM starts at a drying out clinic for alcoholics. Group therapy is not One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - more a meeting of bewildered individuals wondering why they're watching a video in Welsh language with sub-titles and doing exercises more fitted to a school of drama. From Jerusalem, Blake's immortal song, Bruce extrapolates the story of laughing Mary and wealthy Bartholomew and the sublimal meaning for the becomes a truism.

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER is about two lonely boys growing up in an orphanage. The narrator becomes a clerk in a whisky distillery and both young men by seventeen years of age are hardened drinkers. Sometimes living together in Scotland and London, in between adventures alone, the attitudes of alcoholics to non-drinkers are succinctly described. As for the effect upon marriage and families, this is achieved in very few words that say it all. The final sentence will have great resonance for any recovering alcoholic.


Product details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: PublishAmerica (23 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592869033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592869039
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,955,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

This is Bruce's first collection of short stories and it's an achievement. My recommendation - buy it. -- Book Publicity. Dione M. Coumbe

From the Author

Most of these stories are based on real life. As a recovering alcoholic I wrote them in an effort to dredge up the past, hoping that by doing so I might better understand where it all went wrong - or at least find a clue to my identity.

Two stories, Gulf and Tarradale's Option are tributes to the Sutherland crofting community amongst whom I was privileged to live for three years. The American connection in Gulf is inspired a long-standing involvement with U.S. Internet writing communities.

Orra Loon and Bonny in Black (originally Strushle Jock) are set in Speyside and culled from my experiences growing up in that district in the company of deprived orphans.

For Insulated Conductor, a humorous tale of life on London Buses, I try to convey a cockney touch, as with Potholes and Speed and Dodgy Night Out which reflect life in the furniture removal business.

Friendly Fire draws on bleary recollections of Jersey and destructive self-indulgence.

Jerusalem and My Brother's Keeper are practically autobiographical, charting how I eventually reached the stage of reaching out for help for my addiction at the expense of a life-long friendship.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Written with a wonderful sense of irony and dry humour, acclaimed and emulated by fellow-writers for their technical perfection, these stories will reduce you successively to shocked silence and helpless laughter. Mr. Bruce can find humour in tragedy and a vein of sadness just below the surface of comedy. These could only have been written by someone who had lived a long life in the role of an outsider, and who understands the uneasy truce that defines the end point in the battle against alcoholism. A truly riveting and unforgettable journey through the soul of a superb storyteller with a wealth of stories to tell.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You simply must read this! 12 Sep 2003
If you're a reader who won't settle for commonplace, someone looking for a little more than the everyday run-of-the-mill fiction, you simply must read this. The themes for the selected short stories in this anthology are sublime examples that translate well for anyone capable of reading between the lines; someone who doesn't feel the need to be hit over the head with either poignancy, humor or pathos.
The author's experiences arrive full-frontal, but sneak in through the side door. It's cheeky in some spots, ethereal in others, but always balanced with a tongue-in-cheek wit that allows it to transcend without feeling the need to preach.
I wish it were twice as long as it is, and I can't wait for the next edition. Oh, and I might add... you don't have to be British to understand it, either-- I'm as American as apple pie. Bravo!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PA turned this Drifter into a bum 18 Mar 2005
By David L. Kuzminski - Published on Amazon.com
It's sad when an author's hard work is trashed by the publisher he trusted to put out a quality product into as many brick and mortar stores as possible. Quite simply put, a couple of online stores doesn't match up with what all the physical stores can do.

Eddie Bruce has asked that reviewers let the public know that he doesn't want them to buy his book since the majority of the profits would benefit a publisher that isn't worthy. As the editor at Preditors & Editors (tm), I have to agree with Mr. Bruce. Please don't buy this book now. Wait until Eddie Bruce's rights are returned by PublishAmerica and it's properly published with a reputable publisher.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book. I'm sad for Mr. Bruce though... 17 Mar 2005
By Mem - Published on Amazon.com
This is such a neat book! It is so sad that it will never get the recognition that it deserves because it is published with a publishing company that deceives it's authors and makes no attempt to promote it. Publishamerica relies on the family and friends of the author to buy the books and the author has to do ALL his own promotions. This should be in lots of well-known bookstores and instead it will sit on the shelves of publishamerica for seven years.

Just ONE example of why "A Drifters Legacy" will never be on the shelves of B&N. How sad for Mr. Bruce that he was taken in by a company like publishamerica.

PUBLISHAMERICA CONTRADICTS BARNES & NOBLE

Originally Posted by Infocenter:

A Vice President at Barnes and Noble wrote us a letter, saying, "We very much believe in print-on-demand (POD) technology as a cost-effective tool available for publishers to extend the range of their title offerings to Barnes & Noble... We believe that POD represents an opportunity to increase the range of titles we offer... We will continue to stock every title that you publish, which enables us to rapidly replenish our stores..."

A letter sent to Memory McDermott from B&N concerning placement of publishamerica books in their store and reasons for not allowing authors of publishamerica to do book signings:

Dear Memory McDermott,

Your letter to Mary Ellen Keating was forwarded to me for a response as my department manages the business relationships Barnes & Noble has with new start up publishers, and self-published authors, like yourself.

All the titles PublishAmerica produces are available to Barnes & Noble customers either through orders in the stores, or online via Barnes & Noble.com ([...] The books are printed (on demand) when they are ordered, and shipped to the customer's home or back to the store for customer pick up. The terms for Publish America titles are not competitive in the trade bookstore marketplace: the books are non-returnable, the discount is not favorable, and most of the titles including Tea for Two Nature's Apothecary are about $5.00 over the going price for titles in the category. These factors in combination inform our decision not to stock the titles in the stores, and for the stores to decide not to do an event with the titles.

I hope this information is helpful.

Marcella A Smith

Director Small Press & Vendor Relations

Barnes & Noble, Inc

122 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10011

MSmithx@bn.com

Memory McDermott has requested that her contract be terminated and all rights of her book be signed back to her.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb storyteller with a wealth of stories to tell. 13 Oct 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Reviewer: David Gardiner from London, United Kingdom. 01.10.03
Written with a wonderful sense of irony and dry humour, acclaimed and emulated by fellow-writers for their technical perfection, these stories will reduce you successively to shocked silence and helpless laughter. Mr. Bruce can find humour in tragedy and a vein of sadness just below the surface of comedy. These could only have been written by someone who had lived a long life in the role of an outsider, and who understands the uneasy truce that defines the end point in the battle against alcoholism. A truly riveting and unforgettable journey through the soul of a superb storyteller with a wealth of stories to tell.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ Enjoyment! 12 Oct 2003
By Jackie R. Jinks - Published on Amazon.com
Eddie Bruce (sole author of this book, btw) will take you into the lives of totally believable people...they are real! You will laugh and cry and become involved with each story and character. Mr. Bruce writes of life that many of us never experience, fortunately; yet we can experience through his words, and be understanding. I consider this a 'must-read' for everyone interested in learning more about people of the world...especially the 'unfortunate' who become the 'fortunate'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How short stories should be written 1 Sep 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As given in the title, this is a collection of short stories. The period covered is from World War 2 to the present day and also spans the genres of romance, crime and life. The thread running through most of them is whisky and the price of over indulgence, ultimately alcoholism. Most of the stories have a 'twist' which is usually unexpected, thus refreshing.
The first title, 'Gulf' is a tale of our times. A young American lass puts a message in a bottle as part of a class project and years later it fetches up on a wild highland beach in Scotland. What develops is both a charming and ironical story made more so by the use of dialect. This, at no time, compromises understanding and the lilt and cadence is implicit in the reading. If you have ever visited the Highlands of Scotland, you'll find this akin to a return trip.
"Orra Loon" tells the poignant story of a young orphan's search for an identity in an unjust world.
'Bonny in Black' relates the story of John, an adolescent low in self-esteem who nevertheless accomplishes much by diligence as an apprentice cooper then as he reaches adulthood, marries and settles with Mary. Becoming too fond of the product of his work and at odds with Mary's family, he resolves his difficulties in an ultimately destructive way. In this story you'll find the characterisation drawn very finely. Bruce has the knack of sketching with economy, no extraneous puff and every word counting.
In 'Tarradale's Option', rural life in Scotland comes to the fore with this tale of poaching, peat, love and gentle revenge. Written in low key style, the last line comes as a shock, yet provokes laughter. Oh, how cruel!
With 'Insulated Conductor', Bruce moves to London and to a 'fly-boy with street cred.' who works as an inspector hunting down fraud by employees for London Transport buses. Here, I'd guess the author knows the job since his description of people, attitudes, routes and scams is spot on. Romance gets in the way of the job but how is Gina 'creaming' London Transport? I'll leave you to find out; the lady's ingenious.
Still in London, 'Potholes and Speed' brings Duncan who is trying to build up his road haulage company and avoid any crooked associations. For self-starters in this business, it's always difficult. 'It fell off the back of a lorry' has been a cliché since they were invented. Again, Bruce's ear for dialogue and dialect comes to the fore; he has the argot in all the right sequences. 'Guys and Dolls' it ain't, this is realspeak, to be heard on the streets of the capital anywhere. Does Duncan escape? Find out.
More of Duncan in 'Dodgy Night Out.' Cleverly observed, this is a vignette of how normal people react outside the 'boom and bang' of Hollywood treatments.
'Friendly Fire' is set in Jersey; Although Jersey is part of the United Kingdom, it's still an island of 'ex-pats' a kind of miniature 'Happy Valley' where sun, sex, adultery and money all contribute to the melee and can lead to a 'crime passionel'. A hotpot of mistaken motives and deeds, with a kick at the end.
Don't get friendly with Jim, the 'Fixer'. This is a health warning. A truly creepy and sinister story that would have delighted Poe, if he'd been around today. This is a particular gem because it's very difficult in a short story to convey the ideas and emotions propelling the plot. Bruce achieves this, far more than adequately, by crafting each word and wasting none.
With 'Receiver' we're back in London and listening to a conversation between an older and younger woman. It isn't until the last few sentences it becomes clear the dialogue you've read is full of reverses and euphemisms for what is really happening. An amusing tale of a biter, bit.
'The Bookies Runner' is a period piece, which describes the activities of a man, with hopes for the future, who collects bets to back horses, dogs or whatever is running.
'Jerusalem' starts at a drying out clinic for people with addictions.. Group therapy is not 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. More a meeting of bewildered individuals wondering why they're watching a video in Welsh language with sub-titles and doing exercises more fitted to a school of drama. From 'Jerusalem', Blake's immortal song, Bruce extrapolates the story of laughing Mary and wealthy Bartholomew and the subliminal meaning which for them, becomes a truism.
'My Brother's Keeper,' is about two lonely boys growing up in an orphanage. The narrator becomes a clerk in a whisky distillery and both young men by seventeen years of age are hardened drinkers. Sometimes living together in Scotland and London, in between adventures alone, the attitudes of alcoholics to non-drinkers are succinctly described. As is the effect upon marriage and families; this is achieved in very few words that say it all. The final sentence will have great resonance for anyone who has been, or is, alcoholic.
This is Bruce's first collection of short stories and it's an achievement. He's produced a work that, whilst having a common thread, is very varied in content and interest thus never dull. It isn't full of pyrotechnics, but beautifully and thoughtfully crafted and true to those he writes about. These are people who will never find their 'fifteen minutes of fame' and probably wouldn't want to. The whole work makes the point that so-called ordinary people are anything but, once you go beyond appearance. If you were to describe the book in musical terms, it would definitely fall into the 'Country' category, but without the whine of self-pity.
My recommendation is buy it. If you're a reader you won't be disappointed and if you are also an aspiring writer of short stories, you have a book of templates of how these should be written.
Dione M. Coumbe. July 2003.
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