5 December, 2021

True Colors
Michelle Davidson Argyle
ISBN-10: 1467925500

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Colors have a way of fascinating, whether wrapped in paper and stuffed in a box, or pushing fistfuls through topsoil, screaming, “I am here at last!”

The above qoute, from ‘Clover’ on page 89, summarizes this collection of literary short stories (with the occasional poem) perfectly. Colors, secrets, symbolism, imagery, love lost and gained, nature…each of these play a considerably large role in the sixteen stories within.

When I think of these stories, I can’t help but compare them to snapshots. They’re more like photographs transformed into words; a moment that is otherwise mundane becomes beautiful and significant, like with ‘Encounters’ and ‘The Sky Was Bluer Then, and Smoke More White.’

For those more accustomed to contemporary fiction, ‘True Stories’ may take some getting used to. Many of the stories are poetic and abstract. Because of this, a slower read-through is sometimes necessary. I didn’t have a problem with that. Forcing me, a speed reader, to slow down in order to really try and work out the meaning of a story is a good thing. The only story I couldn’t grasp was ‘An Offering of Vines.’

Of the sixteen stories, seven really stuck with me. ‘The Threshold’ is my absolute favorite, what with it’s wonderful dialogue and characters that feel extremely real. ‘Fences’ and ‘Clover’ stick with me also due to how very solid the characters were. In both tales, I was able to smile at some parts and feel genuinely sad at others. I admired how they all held themselves together, if even on a thread, in spite of how damaged they were.

‘Signs,’ in spite of its length (or maybe because of its length), manages to be terrifying and sad. Though some instances of ‘The Unpaved’ did confuse me, I loved how so much of it was symbolism and imagery, how it managed to be two stories that combined to make one.

I’ve never been too big of a fan of poetry, but I really did enjoy ‘Enclosures’ and ‘The Innocent Flower.’ ‘Enclosures’ made me feel envious of such a relaxing, simple moment between the mom and her child while ‘The Innocent Flower’ was charged with emotion and personification and an admirable representation of Lady Macbeth.

I’ve noticed that many of the stories contain marriages gone wrong or a number of secrets that are kept from both characters and the audience. There are as many secrets in this collection as there are colors, as with ‘Sounding Light’ and ‘This.’

When I read a short story collection, I always feel as though I have somehow become closer to the author. Michelle Argyle is one of those unique authors you rarely see these days. She writes in so many different genres and styles – poetry, suspense, literary, fantasy, mystery, new adult, etc – and I can’t wait to read and review her other stories!


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