Tales of the Young, the Old and the Middle Aged

by Hugh Aaron

ISBN 1-882521-10-2, 258 Pages, Softcover
List price   $15.00

What the Book Is About:
Here are twenty-three short and not-so-short stories about change, loss, courage, trust, friendship, and love. They are about people age five to eighty-five. They are about people like you and me and people we know.

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Comment from a Reader:

Another winner! Just finished It's all Chaos. Could not put it down; read it all night. Now I will read it again, slowly digesting it. You are a wonderful, colorful writer in the vein of W. Irving, S. Maugham, P. Loti, I. Turgenev. L. Yutan, and Amado. I thank you for the opportunity to enjoy, so far, two of your books. I am lending them to my friends so they can enjoy them too. Please keep writing more.
Oleg Tupine, Falls Church, VA

From the Publisher:
Readers consistently tell us that they relate deeply to the stories in this broad ranging collection.

From the Author:
These stories develop many themes. Taking the book as a whole, however, I discovered a common theme that runs through most of them. It's that life is essentially unpredictable, chaotic. The characters I portray are usually in a predicament of their own making. They cope in a variety of ways, some not always successful.

From the Foreword:
Hugh Aaron's short story fiction captures many of the thoughts and worries that plague us all, no matter what age we are. All ages and predicaments are fair game for Aaron's characters. Tales of marriage, business, friendship, tragedy, lost love, unfulfilled dreams and personal uncertainty all flow from Aaron's pen with masterful delivery, sensitive and poignant. When you have finished reading, you will feel several of these stories are too painfully real. The beauty of Aaron's stories is that we see ourselves in them. We can pretend otherwise, but we are there nonetheless.
William D. Bushnell

Reviews of It's All Chaos
Under collections-by-one-author, I'd like to introduce you to a special person. From right around the corner in Belfast, is Hugh Aaron whose It's All Chaos is a collection of the most people-y stories I've come across in years. These are the kind of stories that used to be told within a family, memory stories, emotional rememberances, stories that reach out and touch for real. Try "Sailing Free" and see if you can stand off from it; read "The Coffee Break" and try to keep it on the page.
Marilis Hornidge, The Courier Gazette, Rockland, ME

Hugh Aaron's short story collection It's All Chaos represents dynamite tales on a short fuse, hot bursts of epiphany in the ever expanding growth of human pain, searing journeys from innocence to experience, underscoring the troubled spirit lurking beneath the face that faces the world.

In these riveting stories of stark prose and lacerating dialogue, weddings are preludes to disaster, hopes are blasted, achievements blunted, success thwarted, marital bliss is an oxymoron. Though not the mills of God, they still grind exceedingly fine. Holding things dear in this life is like squeezing water.

Most of these stories, with their initial expectant awakening, conclude in revelations of irreversible misfortune. Dostoyevskian bleak, the characters, though not hopeless, lack hope; though far from helpless, need help. "Curst be he who puts his faith in man", says the Bible, but one character states characteristically, "We matter to each other. Nothing else in the whole universe gives a damn." There are no spiritual frames of reference, and few, if any, resolutions. Suicide releases some; nihilism relieves others. They deplore life as they cling to it. If it is true, as Aaron states, that "suffering brings wisdom", it is the wisdom of time, not of eternity. Since the face of God is missing from our lives, they are held hostage to life's changes and tribulations, unable to embrace its essence. Thus, a dream sequence perterbs a character's "sawdust soul."

Aaron often exposes the naked heart, agonizing as it blinks and shrivels in the cold, blinding winter sun of its humiliation. There is the heartbreaking and unforgettable portrait of a former nun who loses her innocence, then loses God, and finally loses herself, an earth-mother figure torn up by the roots.

There are poignant moments, too, where in "This Land is Mine," a young boy learns a valuable lesson from a perspicacious old man, and in "Sailing Free," the sea represents its timeless symbol of unbounded freedom to a troubled soul.

Aaron's authentic vision of the post WWII's sterile era sparkles. To paraphrase Orson Welles's tribute to James Cagney's screen performance: Nothing in Aaron's fiction is real, but everything is true.
Ramon de Rosas, Reviewer for Maine In Print

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