Kyle S. Taylor is, so to speak, an author’s author. Fellow writers can easily appreciate his skill of making the hard job of creating engaging fiction look easy.
He brandishes a firm grasp of fundamentals like eye-friendly word-flow, solid character construction, compelling immediacy, and imagery that paints a perfectly clear picture.
For good measure, Taylor also has a deft hand at dialogue, instead of just coming up with conversation; he devises exchanges that move the story along.
He wrote a winner with Fate’s Destiny, a sharply inventive take on good versus evil, a smartly tongue in cheek, deftly understated treatment, as God and Satan arrive to Earth in mortal form to do pitched battle over the souls of humankind.
It is, of course, a concept old as the hills. You’ve come across it over the ages from classic yarns like Damn Yankees and The Devil and Daniel Webster to such jazzed up renditions like Bruce Almighty and Bedazzled.
Taylor, though, cleverly takes things to a new place, the setting being the lives of everyday folk in your average ‘hood. He triumphs again, surviving the sophomore jinx with In Search of…, a collection of short stories about looking for either something meaningful and worthwhile in life or a solution to a grim dilemma.
For example, the short story The Plan is expertly executed, and subtly lays a landmine in the exposition — a college student’s catastrophic pregnancy evolving into life-altering circumstance no one sees coming. The young mother’s machinations to save herself are ingenious on the drawing board. But put into place, they blow-up in her face, leaving her perhaps a still worse predicament that is enough to try her very sanity.
The Last Kiss is not Taylor‘s best work, but nonetheless keeps you within his fluid, trademark style. A lady of evening misguidedly hell-bent on taking her choice of profession out on those from whom she has earned a handsome living, lays out a devious trap to infect her “clients.”
What she fails to realize and, for some reason the doctor didn’t tell her, is that HIV routinely is a one-way infection that women contract much more readily than men, simply because it has greater access to the female blood stream. This and the disappointingly irresolute ending, mar an otherwise enjoyable tale.
The Savior of the City is a dryly sardonic saga of some luckless bystander in life, whose fickle, arbitrary circumstance involve a brush with fame and fortune he eventually finds he can’t get enough of.
Accidentally growing addicted to the limelight cast on his Good Samaritan deed of foiling a plot to bomb a city bridge, he increasingly grows discontent, then actually angry when people stop buying dinner and drinks, basically congratulating him for breathing. He hatches a sure-fire means by which to get one final fix to regain his glory — at a wild and crazy price.
You care about what happens in these accounts of people coping with dilemmas that drive them up a wall and insatiably have to be faced. You readily develop an interest and come to have a stake in how things turn out for them.
In Search of…could stand a touch of economy here and there, and Taylor indulges a taste for flourishing his prose with a bit more description than is necessary. Over all, though, his skill at the craft is not to be denied.
You’ll find In Search of…fine reading. Especially when you’re browsing through the book racks for something to read when whiling away an afternoon sunning at the beach or on that flight to your getaway vacation.
The book is top shelf literary entertainment. After turning that last page, you’ll find yourself bumping into friends and telling them they really should pick up a copy.
For more information, go to www.kylestaylor.blogspot.com.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.