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Short Story Collection Dangerous Obsessions - 2015

Tight, taut and shocking, these stories all have warped love as the source of violence. Belgian/Flemish author, Bob Van Laerhoven, winner of the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category “Mystery/Suspense” and the Hercule Poirot Prize with his controversial novel, Baudelaire’s Revenge, connects the fate of individuals with profound social changes. Van Laerhoven has been a travel writer in conflict-zones from 1990 until 2003 and echos of his experiences trickle through these confronting and thrilling tales, set in civil war-torn Algeria in the fifties, in a gypsy populated Polish concentration-camp during WWII, in a Peruvian border-town where stealing is a deadly art, in Liberia during the civil war in the nineties, and in Belgian Congo during the bloody uproar in the sixties. Omnia vincit amor—Love conquers allthe saying goes. But not our Dangerous Obsessions.

(...) "surprise discovery."(...) I read this collection of short stories that has been translated into English and found them to be very compelling with nary a slip in the translation that might cause confusion. The Flemish author Bob Van Laerhoven translated several of the stories himself and did a fine job. (2015 - Best Books Read So Far - Island Editions)

The central theme of the five stories is war, love (erotic, parental, fraternal and friendly) and obsessions. All the stories are grim, dramatic, and carry a lot of psychological pain. They leave to the reader a bitter taste about humanity. But they are also breathtaking and enthralling. (...) The author does a great work to capture the reader's attention from the beginning. He describes the scenes so well that readers get a feeling that they are real.  (....) I recommend this collection  to anyone who likes  dramatic and down to the earth crime/ mystery stories.  (Castor

Of the dozen or so stand-out individual short story collections I enjoyed in 2015, the Belgian author Bob Van Laerhoven's was the standy-outiest. Van Laerhoven's stories always surprise without descending into the cheap thrills of fakery and he uses his journalistic experience to write about the cold and the cruel aspects of human nature with unflinching truth. (Author Hubert O' Hearn in The 2015 Books Of The Year - San Diego Book Review - best short story collection of 2015)

(….) Each story is a lot more than just a tale; they are all profound studies of the human soul, the conditions of war and upheaval, the world we've created around us, and the double-edged sword known as love. Though this might seem like a rather grandiose ambition, to reflect on so many questions lacking concrete, once-and-for-all answers, but it ends up making for a captivating and fascinating read that sets itself apart from other books by just how much it makes you think. (…) The stories all flow beautifully from one scene to the next, and Laerhoven really has a gift for using the specific words that will hook the reader in, the words that allow him to express his ideas to his full satisfaction. Be warned that there are some relatively graphic moments in there, though in my opinion they only serve to make the stories more memorable, the kind that will etch themselves into your mind for a long time to come. (…) All things considered, Dangerous Obsessions is a different kind of book from what you'd expect to find amongst today's vampires and werewolves; it is a philosophical exploration of the human condition, a confrontation with the darkest corners of our minds. I highly recommend this moving and gripping collection of stories to anyone seeking to be moved by something truly thought-provoking. (David Ben Efraim- Quick Book Reviews -

Dangerous Obsessions" by Bob van Laerhoven is a collection short stories about obsessive love (and lust) in unhappy times (war, conflict, threat, for example). It is powerful, captivating and challenging. This collection is not for those who are easily upset. It is a relatively short book, well-written, easy to read and will have you wanting to complete the book in one sitting. Some pieces are translated into English but lose nothing in the translation. Not recommended for a read on public transport unless you don't mind crying in public.  (Author Sarah Jackson in 2016 Book Reviews)

Dangerous Obsessions" is not for the faint of heart. Its five stories, set in horrific places such as war-torn Liberia, in a Nazi prison camp in occupied Poland during the Second World War, features wonderful main characters who are quite realistic but aren't at their best, being up against a brutal death or a march to the gas chamber. Sometimes the author writes his own stories, in other cases his story is translated, but his brilliance shines through no matter what. "Dangerous Obsessions" tells of life as it is in terrible times, not how the reader wishes it to be.(A. Dinizo - LibraryThing)

A powerful collection of stories - extreme situations and uncanny encounters draw dramatic actions out and they seem the only solutions - the unfamiliar and unnatural enter the lives of protagonists in each story telling tales of authentic and 'ordinary' connections among people. Very strong, and I found I could not put them down. Superb writing! (Leslie Young – LibraryThing) 

I was more than pleasantly surprised when I started reading this book. I generally wouldn't pick up a book of this genre, but since receiving it from Library Thing as an early reviewer, I'm glad it made me step outside of my box. The short stories in this book take a deep look into human nature and the capacity in which love survives. I love how the stories take place all over the world instead of just Europe. I also love how almost every story ended in a way I did not imagine. Van Laerhoven is a very talented writer, and I will seek out his other works after enjoying Dangerous Obsessions so much. (Leonard Miller – LibraryThing) 

There are short stories and there are short stories that are punchy and make an impact. The collection in Dangerous Obsessions are definitely in the latter category. I'd summarise the collection as being related in the theme of brutal situations, the human condition and the armour and instruments that it uses to best survive these, often in wildly contrasting ways (eg greed versus altruism).(SyllaBub – LibraryThing) 

The dangers in Dangerous Obsessions, Bob Van Laerhoven's collection of short stories, are the consequences suffered by the protagonists when the disregard their cognitive intelligence over their emotions. Turning away from what they know and turning toward the hope that love always brings with it, the protagonists in his stories are left heartbroken realizing that they are the ones who broke their own hearts leaving them to live half-lives or die.
The five short stories are written in a spare, authoritative voice giving them a wonderful personal tone, making it easy to like the person telling the tale. It is as if the narrator is present and the two of you are sitting in a cafe. You are listening to a confession of sorts; a tormented soul letting you know the intimate details of the ways in which they became broken and alone and without spirit.
These are sad stories and, in this writer's opinion, are not about obsessive people. The characters are in full control of their decisions and, having made the wrong ones, suffer the consequences. 
Laerhoven's themes are about love and war; the war within ourselves, between past and present and between freedom and oppression and how illusion and love trick us into thinking we can change war's outcome. 
The stories in Dangerous Obsessions are well-told tales about the human condition and the currency we waste by refusing to own what we know. (Ellin Pollachek – LibraryThing) 

The author writes this collection of short stories in a graphic, detailed, and descriptive style that held my attention throughout. This is a collection of five short stories of which three are translated and two are written in English. The stories are dark and brutal at times. The characters are all dealing with horrific circumstances and the author presents the reader with a very intimate and descriptive picture of what a human being can and will do in order to survive. I found the footnotes to be very helpful. This is a powerful, graphic, and well-written collection of short stories that reveals what a person will do in order to survive. (I.Adam – LibraryThing)


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