Friday, 21 of June of 2024

Atonement and other stories

DAVID W. BARBER, WHO HAS DELIGHTED READERS all around the world with Bach, Beethoven and the BoysAccidentals on PurposeGetting a Handel on Messiah and other internationally bestselling books of classical musical humor, takes a more serious turn with his first extended foray into fiction – the collection Atonement and other stories.
In this collection of 13 short stories – call them a Barber’s dozen – the first eight cover a wide range of topics and time periods. They span from the early formation of our planet to first-century Palestine to the Second World War to the present day and beyond. Their topics and situations range from theology to political intrigue both historical and modern to the vagaries of marital infidelity, fortune and fame. Neither science fiction nor fantasy – though science and the fantastical sometimes play a role in these various cautionary tales – these stories are what readers might consider “speculative fiction.” Each story in some way asks the question “What if?”
The title story, Atonement, asks what if an unknown politician arose to counter the devastation of Trumpism? In Not So Wonderful, what if a loathsome rich man woke one day to find himself poor? In Project Habakkuk (based on true events), what if a giant iceberg battleship could help defeat Hitler and hasten the end of WW2? In Terminal Velocity, what if you suddenly woke up and found yourself falling from an airplane at about 10,000 feet? In Suffer Little Children, what if a Boston Catholic with firsthand knowledge of the church’s shameful sex abuse became pope and decided to finally do something about it? In Joseph, what if the father of Jesus wanted to tell his side of the story? These and other questions are the inspiration for Barber’s inventive fiction.
The other five stories that round out the collection are Barber’s own original Sherlock Holmes stories. Four have been published previously and collected as The Adventure of the Sunken Parsley and Other Stories of Sherlock Holmes. But the fifth, The Case of the Solitary Canary, is a brand-new story that draws Sherlock Holmes into Barber’s extensive knowledge of classical music in general and of Handel’s Messiah in particular.

Here’s what some notable people have said about David W. Barber’s books:

“My heartiest commendation for an admirable work of scholarship …
– Author Antony Burgess, on Bach, Beethoven and the Boys

“I was delighted by these short, witty pieces by this talented writer.”
–Cartoonist Ben Wicks, on The Last Laugh: Essays and Oddities in the News

“I enjoyed these pieces enormously.”
– Alan Coren, former editor of Punch magazine,
on The Last Laugh: Essays and Oddities in the News

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