Book Review: Three Hundred Words, VI January, by Christopher Yurkanin
Posted on May 18, 2016
This collection of historical-fiction essays by Christopher Yurkanin is a real pleasure to read. I liked that each piece is limited to three hundred words, as this constraint provided a solid frame for the writer to build his tales, with no extraneous pieces. (So, quite unlike Ikea DIY purchases, where extra bits are found under your bookshelf while you pray the thing will hold together with a few bolts missing.) I liked, too, that I learnt a lot, and that the teaching was done with a light and deft touch. The best part, though, is that there is a little surprise at the end of each story, where the reader gets an “Aha! I knew that person was familiar, but couldn’t place him!” Sometimes, I did know who the story was about, the facts hidden within the plausible fiction, but most often, I did not, so it was rather like finding the treat in a box of Cracker Jack. As these pieces were written as standalone works within an overarching theme and structure, I read them one at a time (or, at most, three at a time) over several weeks. I found that quite a few of the stories inspired further reading, to learn more about the persons and events described. Many are quite funny, and some tragic, but all enjoyable in their own way.