Buyers, Liars, Sellers and Yellers
Daniel Pike and Joy Lynn Goddard (Friesen Press, 2016)
Reviewed by Marion Reidel
Buyers, Liars, Sellers and Yellers is an entertaining collection of short fiction for mature readers, in particular those for whom leisure time a scarce commodity. As the title hints, the stories all have some connection to real estate. Manipulative brokers try to close deals, anxious buyers chase their dream homes and homeowners struggle with some of life’s most challenging transitions. Joy Lynn Goddard has an established career as an author of Young Adult fiction. Daniel Pike is her husband and a former real estate agent. They teamed up to create this amusing collection of a dozen linked short stories.
Despite what can be serious themes, Goddard and Pike have a tongue-in-cheek approach that is entertaining. The short fiction format provides easily digestible tales that are well suited to the schedule of today’s busy readers. All of the stories are told in a first person narrative, giving the reader the intimate feeling of being a confidant. The prose flows well and the narrative is clear, making this collection perfect to carry in your bag, or on your tablet, for easy access whenever a moment to read presents itself.
Besides having the common theme of realty, these stories are linked through repeated characters or references to previous events. This adds to the reader’s fun by emphasizing the feeling of having inside information. The characters are flawed humans, trying to find their way through life’s obstacles. The reader may scoff at their foolishness or empathize with their dilemmas, but either way one cannot help but become engaged with their situations.
William is a hapless relator who is featured in two of the collection’s tales. He handles high-end listings, which tend to come with demanding clients. William is desperate to score a commission, especially when he represents both the buyer and seller. Readers will cringe as they observe his ill-fated decisions, then chuckle at the outcome. Other characters include a feisty Nana who’s determined to move out of the old folks home, an award winning realtor who primps and preens prior to a banquet in his honour and an opinionated matriarch who’s been in the business for decades.
The final piece in this collection cleverly draws all the characters to one setting. This provides the reader with closure to previous cliffhangers and reinforces the belief that these people are working in the same community. The books offers a conclusion that is both satisfying and thought provoking.
Each story is based on some level of reality as Pike’s experience combines with consulting real estate agent, Sam Lasby. The scenarios take an unexpected twist, some shocking, others humorous, which add to the entertainment value. A single mom is prepared to break the law to get a dream home for her boys, a mousey housewife is tempted by a exhibitionist neighbour, competitive young agents face sexual advances and life in a rural stone cottage repeatedly threatens the homeowner’s wellbeing. Nothing proceeds as expected when Goddard and Pike are calling the shots.
John Metcalfe, an influential figure on the Canadian literary scene, has remarked on the shift of focus from rural to urban life. In his introduction to the Collection of Canadian Stories, Metcalfe points to the influx of books by vibrant young authors that shun the “anachronistic backwards gaze from a rural past” and turn instead to the “realities of anaesthetizing suburbs” and other urban issues. Goddard and Pike make their contribution to this trend with their short story collection “Buyers, Liars, Sellers and Yellers.”
This collection of tens stories has been published by Friesen Press, Victoria, B.C. and is distributed by The Ingram Book Company. It is available on Amazon or through your local bookstore in both print and digital versions.