For what it's worth, Roberto Scarlato is a writer who is not only a witness to but a participant in life -- more specifically, the human condition.
Rob first contacted me about six months ago and invited me to appear on his blog, Tales and Troubled Times of a Hungry Writer. And believe it or not, I had been reluctant to accept his invitation. "I'm a chick lit writer," I quipped. "Your blog seems to appeal to a much different audience and genre."
Looking at Rob's blog and reading his posts, one could see that he had an affection for literary science fiction, the greats like Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury (my knowledge of Matheson extends only as far as the fantastic Twilight Zone epsiodes of the early 60s, and my twin brother fills me in on the rest). But I could also see something else: Rob Scarlato loves the craft of writing, and loves writers, too.
So, we gave each other a shot.
Since then, Rob has become one of the Faking It Fans, and always puts in a good word whenever he can. So it was without hesitation that I snagged a copy of For What It's Worth immediately after hearing of its release.
Ever thoughtful of my preferences, Rob directed me to particular stories in the collection. The first one I read was "The Subtle Teachings of Mr. Rifa."
I connected with this character right away, but I don't think it was only because he was a teacher. There was something I understood about him, and I understood the construction of the story.
The next story I read was "Failing Upwards," a hilarious comedy of errors for a poor schmoe who, in the end, lives to see another day after a calamitous interaction with a staircase. Readers are also witnesses in Rob's story world, and one can't help but watch this guy without both feeling sorry for him and laughing at his expense.
But perhaps the most imaginative story for me was "Your Escape Plan Now" -- a set of directions for a corporate prisoner to make a break! Here, the reader is the traveling companion, even the participant, rather than the observer. Interestingly, Rob wrote the story in one sitting, and the reader certainly feels like he/she is on a rollercoaster. I couldn't help but wonder about this intended reader -- does he make it out (and it felt like it was written for a "he")? What if he is snagged somewhere? How do we know? It is up to our own imaginations to continue or end the story as we see it.
Don't like those? You have 16 more to choose from. The book even comes with author's notes at the very end, which I recommend saving for last, to give the reader an insight look to Rob's insights and inspirations. Overall, the collection is solid, and the mark of a writer who is well on his way.
Give For What It's Worth a try, especially if you are a fan of the short story genre, science fiction, or the human condition.