Tales of Accidental Genius
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
“She believed it was a gift to never truly know the self. We are not who we think we are, nor how others see us. Long before death, we die a thousand times at the hands of a definition.”
In his first book of short stories since Love Begins in Winter, for which he won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award), bestselling author Simon Van Booy offers a collection of stories highlighting how human genius can emerge through acts of compassion. Through characters including an eccentric film director, an aging Cockney bodyguard, the teenage child of Nigerian immigrants, a divorced amateur magician from New Jersey, and a Beijing street vendor who becomes an overnight billionaire, Tales of Accidental Genius contemplates individuals from different cultures, races—rich and poor, young and old—and reveals how faith and yearning for connection helps us all transcend darkness of fear and misfortune.
Another day, another Simon van Booy novel to review here on the blog 😛 Tales of Accidental Genius is Simon van Booy’s second collection of short stories. Whereas the first collection dealt with love in all forms, this collection has a different angle, which I thought was interesting, not to mention it sounded lie the stories featured characters from all kinds of backgrounds.
The stories here are definitely longer than the ones in The Secret Lives of People in Love (review). At this point in having read a number of his works, I’ve come to know that he really highlights on the small moments that may seem like nothing or those fleeting moments that are gone before you realise what had occurred. It felt here that those small, everyday moments were highlighted even more, amidst the reflections on life and those missed moments along the way.
The story that stood out for me was the one with the divorced amateur magician. I’m not entirely sure why. I did find that the stories in this collection had some kind of bait-and-switch going on regarding which charcters had the emotional punch; I found that the story with the magician in particular highlighted that switch for me in that I thought he would be the one with the revelation and it turned out that another set of characters had the “Ahh” moment. It happened to me often enough times whilst reading this book that I had to point it out.
Overall, Tales of Accidental Genius was an interesting enough read. I personally liked his first collection more as I found it to be more atmospheric, but this book was pretty different too.