I like to review the short stories that I read, particularly if they're good, but as you know, I don't like to count them as books. As always, I read two short stories/small books to count them as one, as is the case with this review.
First up is Quid Pro Quo, a short story by Dan Dillard. In this story, there are two families struggling with illness. Louis is a child who suddenly develops life-threatening flu-like symptoms, and Laura is a middle-aged married woman who has been riddled with cancer. The families do not know each other, but they share a common determination to be healthy. Hearsay leads both families to a mysterious man named Steven, who is said to be a healer. Louis and Laura are both "healed" by Steven, but they soon learn that healing comes at a high cost.
This was a jarring, strange little tale that will really make you think. Louis and Laura both thought that the ability to live was all they wanted or needed. As it turns out, quality of life becomes more important than how long they survive. Steven says there is no up without down, no back without front, no dark without light, and so on. There's a cost for everything, and it's interesting to see what Louis and Laura give up for their health, and whether cheating fate was worth it in the long run. This definitely isn't a feel-good story, so don't pick up for a quaint sunny afternoon read. That being said, I really enjoyed it, even though it was kind of disturbing. Those kinds of stories are nice every once in a while, especially when it's just a short story. You can get it for free on Kindle here.
Read on June 23, 2011
Next is Zachary Zombie and the Lost Boy: A Story for Demented Children. This is a short story by John H. Carroll, which really is intended for children -- demented or not, I think. I like zombies, and I admittedly have had a bit of Halloween fever lately (I wish it came more than once a year...), so I thought I would use this as the second part of my short story review. I am sad to say I was disappointed.
The story is about a kid named Tobais who gets lost in the woods. He comes across Zachary, a zombie who has actually retained his soul thanks to a witch's spell... So he's kind of part-zombie, part-human. Tobais asks Zachary to help him find his way home, apparently unscathed by the fact that Zachary is a zombie. So, they set out to make it back to the village. Meanwhile, for about a page or so, there's a snobby girl named Anise who longs to be rescued her from her perfectly comfortable lifestyle. Not really sure why that's important, but it's there.
There's really not much going on in this story. It's got some silly, zany descriptions of zombies and their creepy friends, and it's kind of funny in a children's book sort of way. Still, I don't think there was a point. Even kids' books need to have a point. The last couple of paragraphs (in which a prince is introduced), while they do tie in to a previous scene in the story, completely do not belong at all. It sounds like the beginning of an entirely different story.
Maybe I don't read enough children's books and was expecting too much from this. It just wasn't very well-crafted. My kids in the summer program I teach wrote children's stories a couple of weeks ago, and even they understood there needed to be a story arc and a finite ending. Oh, well. This was also free on Kindle, and you can see more about it here.
Read from June 24, 2001 to June 25, 2011