(Full disclaimer: I met Ken Foster when he taught a fiction workshop I took as an undergrad at Florida State. I've since kept up with him through social media.)
The Kind I'm Likely to Get is a series of short stories, some of which follow recurring characters and all of which include characters in the same universe with similar emotional voices. Although the settings change, the urban centers through which the characters orbit is nearly interchangeable.
Foster paints some really intriguing scenes, although I found myself struggling to hang it all together. It wasn't until I finished the stories and discovered the notes section in the back that it started to click for me. I have trouble investing in stories when I don't like the characters or when I can't understand the motivations of their actions. In the notes, Foster explains that he doesn't expect--or even want--the reader to like some of the characters. Some of them really are toxic and horrible. He's simply painting a scene in which these characters exist.
And he paints those scenes brilliantly. So much so, in fact, that I forgot for a while where I'd heard some of the stories. Some images from “Keep it From the Flame” lingered with me, and later I tried to remember if it was a news story or something someone told me or where I'd heard the story. Also, one character's trademark doodle, a cockroach turning into a locomotive, is described in one of the first stories and then mentioned again in a much later story. In the interim, I forgot that the doodle wasn't a real-life graffito or logo and thought Foster must be referencing the non-fictional world.
That may indicate that I'm an inattentive reader. Or it may show just how vivid Foster's scenes and characters are, how they come to life and worm their way into your memories.
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