I really enjoy Chris Westlake's writing. I think he is a brilliant writer, and his book Just a Bit of Banter, Like is one of my new favorite books.
With the publication dates it is very hard to tell, however I would venture to guess that Now the Party is Finally Over is Westlake's first endeavor. I do not say this because it is a collection of short stories instead of a published novel. I say this because the short stories were written more like Westlake was exploring his style.
This was fascinating to see from a writing standpoint. However, as a reader I expect a published work, and maybe especially a published collection of short stories, to be more polished.
The first area of concern is the theme. The stories are everywhere. There is sex, murder, sweet childhood memories, and not so sweet childhood memories. It seems like one story was set next to the other based on one small theme. If one had a guitar in the story then the other story with a guitar would be placed next to it. Even though the first story was about sexuality and the second about a child finding his father. I use the guitar as an example mostly because there is one on the cover. I don't ever remember a guitar in the stories.
Then there is the exploration in the writing. Westlake would try something out in one story, and try something else out in another story. Mostly it was interesting to see. Although, his hooks at the end of the story were not so interesting. They were not well mastered and should have been left out of almost all of the stories.
I have given the book the rating I have because it isn't as polished as it should have been. However, I enjoyed reading it immensely. I love short story collections, and it was interesting to see how diverse Westlake could write. Having read all of his published work, I know he is a truly gifted author. I look forward to following his career.
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