In a city depressed for decades, with a constant clash of rich and poor, one thing still flows from hand to hand. Whether you have it or need it or are trying to get it, money will still underlie all the decisions one makes over the course of your day.
For eleven different people, one twenty dollar bill will pass from hand to hand. As it enters into their lives, no matter how briefly, it takes the bearer into a place where logic and reality take a back seat to whatever strange occurrence may befall them. As each tale comes to pass, it connects with another person that they may or may not ever know through the course of spending the money however they may wish.
From a homeless man’s journey into obscurity to a bellhop’s descent into madness to a career criminal stealing from the wrong person, the tales of horror and suspense put forth in ten different intersecting short stories will leave you wondering just what might be in your wallet and what kind of tale you could tell after finding a severely marked bill in your effects. As the bill is passed, the story it creates will change. As the markings on it fade, so too does the reality of those associated with it. As they struggle through their difficulties, they understand that all who hold that accursed Federal Reserve Note are going to go through something severely unexpected.
Some will say that that’s life.
Actually, that’s Twenty.
This is an interesting read. While it’s a series of short stories, they all connect to one degree or another. Like the description says – the twenty dollar bill is what guarantees the connection, though there are other, more subtle, connections here and there throughout as well.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I loved that each short story had a definite beginning, middle, and end. The last tale had a sense of final closure for the entire anthology, which added another layer of satisfaction as well.
In each of the stories, there’s a little world building that starts from the previous story and continues to expand the modern setting. It was really fun to see some of the settings, and some weren’t so nice. Each of the tales has it’s own flavor, so if you run into one that’s not to your taste, it’s all right if you skip over it. Each story can stand on its own fully, yet I will reinforce, they also play off each other, and tie into each other.
The character building William does within each story is superb. In a few short pages, he develops the characters into people, not just place holders, or cardboard cutouts. Each has their flaws, their virtues, hates, likes, and lives. In most of the stories William manage to give you a glimpse into all of this, which is a delightful encounter from personal experience.
The pace of the anthology is another pleasant surprise. Brisk, but not rushed, each tale developing organically, yet contributing to a building sense of tension and excitement. The final tale, while a little outlandish (he does warn you in the description!) is a nice “cooling off” tale that eases you back into reality without just dropping you on the side of the road to stumble back to your feet.
I wasn’t able to finish this in one sitting, and the format was very nicely set so you could read a little and take a break if necessary. Definitely a book I’d recommend for a busy parent, or student who doesn’t have much time to read in any one time block. A solid 5 out of 5 stars from me.
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