Short Story Review: The Klinefelter’s Adventures: Chromosome of Havoc by Rachael Withers

Story Title: ‘The Klinefelter’s Adventures: Chromosome of Havoc’ by Rachael Withers.
Collection/Anthology?: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 4 (Bristol Review of Books)
Briefly: A day in the life and loves of a college student, who suffers from Klinefelter’s Syndrome.
Afterthoughts: Well this is a first for me. Aside from it having an impossibly long title (I may be exaggerating a little), this is the first short story I’ve ever read that’s been presented as a kind of ‘choice your own’ tale. It’s reminiscent of the single-player adventure gamebooks – such as the Fighting Fantasy series – which were popular in the 1980s.

I won’t lie to you, given that this story is presented in such a non-linear fashion makes it difficult to read, and one really has to go through it 3 or 4 times in order to get it. I would say that the effort is worth it though because what emerges is a fairly good tale. My only worry is that London-based Withers may have been a little too clever for her own good, because just like those adventure gamebooks of the 80s it takes a certain level of patience to get through this story, and this may be off-putting for some.

Talking of patience, this author must have it in abundance because God only knows how long it must have took her to write this story. So bravo to her, both for her ingenuity and her fortitude.

Rating: ★★★½☆

This story was read as part of a review of the Bristol Review of Books Anthology 4. If you want to find out more about this collection then I invite you to pop along to my forethoughts post for this title. I also encourage you to make a trip over to the publisher page for this title.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Greg Zeck says:

    Does a story have to be linear to be (ultimately) intelligible? The linearity is what we’re used to, of course, but could be that in the 21st century we must change the way we’re trained to read. What is painting, sculpture, music hadn’t changed throughout the 20th century? Popular habits die slow, though. (Haven’t read the Withers piece.)

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      You’re right of course Greg. It’s just my tiny brain manages better if things are presented in a more straightforward manner. I enjoyed this story and I enjoyed the experience of reading it. But you admit yourself that it takes a little more effort than your average story, to work through (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as I said – perhaps a little off putting for some)