By David R. Altman

As though it’s not enough to run a successful business for 16 years, Platinum Salon’s Karen Gref decided she would write a book.

Gref, a Hoschton resident who co-owns the salon just off Winder Highway with her husband Thomas, decided to capture some of her family’s memories in a short-story collection called The Shortest of Stories.

Just listen to Gref’s subtitle: “Made with a pinch of truth, a heaping dash of fantasy, a splash of fun, generous amounts of imagination, kneaded gently and set to rise.”

Having read these stories, I’d say that just about covers it!

This short but delightful book is a compilation of 10 short stories with a closing two-page memoir called “Seas of Love” that is full of both wisdom and sage advice.

Gref, a mother of two, who published her book under her initials K.E. Gref, writes with humor and compassion about her experiences from Alabama to Georgia to California and then to Hoschton.

The stories will take you to the home of a rural family in post-World War II Alabama through various family characters and another tale of a distant great Uncle named June who sold some of his livestock and then moved to the West Coast, meeting his inevitable demise in a poker game.

There is a touching story about the grandmother who made quilts and taught the author how to make pot holders. At its conclusion, the author questions whether the decisions she makes while learning to sew will be “wise and last for years to come”.

Gref, whose book includes her sketches at the end of each story, credits her sister Patsy Gaffney as her editor, saying “she’s like a dog with a bone, always wanting to get it right.”

This local businesswoman, who got to Braselton by way of Burbank, California, writes with humor about her family vacations visiting Dauphin Island on the Alabama coast (which includes a classic story about her driving into a ditch while wearing a “tankini”).

There is another story involving a family cruise to the Bahamas, which concludes with an unlikely (and hilarious) incident involving her husband Thomas after he finds a peaceful place to sleep on the ship’s bow.

These are stories we can all enjoy. There’s nothing sinister in Gref's collection, no complications and no cynicism. Like a good Hallmark movie or some long-running British mystery, it’s a welcome little break from the stressful realities of 2020.

These are stories about one family—and the love, faith and laughter that holds it together.

If you’re looking for a gift book—or just one that will make you smile—you might find both in The Shortest of Stories, which is available on via Kindle or paperback.

David R. Altman is a former Georgia Author of the Year nominee for his poetry collection, Death in the Foyer. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the American Academy of Poets. He can be reached at or

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