Short Story Collections can be tricky. The author must find a perfect balance with each story, and in a way, each of them must complement one another. That Which Grows Wild offers us sixteen tales, each unique in their own way, of dark and wild fiction.
Eric J. Guignard is no doubt a talented writer, backed up with compelling ideas that he transfers on the page quite well. However, he also lets himself down a bit. Guignard falls into the trap of holding the reader by the hand, often seen in debut works. This isn’t to say that he does it in every story, but only the ones that are the longer form. There is the need to give every bit of detail, which is evident in the first story, A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love. The story has an interesting approach, a clever idea, but the exposition throughout kills the flow, making it for a frustrating read because Guignard has done everything else right.
However, this isn’t the case with all the stories. Where the stories, and Guignard himself, shines through is those in shorter form. Taking Momma for example, he doesn’t leave room for exposition and, as a result, the story flows effortlessly; and this is further backed up with the other shorter stories. They keep your eyes glued to the page, and before you know it, the story is over.
Sometimes frustrating, sometimes brilliant, Guignard’s debut collection is no doubt full of great stories; but some others are let down by the need to guide the reader, which brings the old-age quote: make the reader do the work.
*** 1/2 out of *****