WE ALL DIE IN THE END by Elizabeth Merry – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | SHORT STORIES
WE ALL DIE IN THE END by Elizabeth Merry
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

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If Joyce, Faulkner, and Kafka were to collaborate…

The result would be Elizabeth Merry’s We All Die in the End.

Merry’s is some of the best writing I’ve read in a while. Like Faulkner, she creates a fictional world unto its own, Faulkner’s set as a struggling Mississippi town, Merry’s as a struggling seaside town in Ireland, both populated with struggling characters with thick dialects common to their region.

However, regarding dialect, where Faulkner reveals his characters’ through heavy (and at times disruptive) word alteration and accent marks, Merry reveals her characters’ distinctive brogue (seemingly) effortlessly and without hardly a notice through beautiful setting descriptions and strategic use of words uncommon to those not of her world.

The effect of her writing to me is powerful…

And surreal…

Kafkaesque.

Merry’s nineteen interwoven stories, or scenes as identified in the book, often misled me into letting my guard down – getting me lost in the cold ocean spray or in the delectable odors stewing from the stove or in the broguish din of the local pub – lulling me into thinking all’s well (how could it not be in such a quaint little town with waves pounding the shore like a mesmerizing lullaby) until it slowly dawns upon me that all is not well in Merry’s little corner of the world. In fact, not until it’s too late do I realize that just about everything beneath the quaint veneer she has laid for us is in fact quite dark and bleak, and at times… quite deadly.

We All Die in the End has left me with a haunting literary hangover.

And for that, I am grateful…

For, as rare as it is, it is that exact aftereffect I yearn for in every book I read.


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A GATHERING OF BUTTERFLIES by Sean C. Wright – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | SHORT STORIES
A GATHERING OF BUTTERFLIES by Sean C. Wright
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★


Tales of steely but vulnerable women of color will melt your heart while lifting your spirits…

A fierce grandmother keeps her grandson from the clutches of Old Scratch in Devil Does Dallas.

An alien abduction transforms a large, miserable woman in Hazel Hogan.

A country girl meets a city girl on her birthday, and struggles to decide if the girl’s heart is dark or light in Bubble Bath Twelve.

And methodical Genie forms an unlikely relationship in Heaven’s Halfway House while in a coma.

Book Description from Amazon

I am in wholehearted concurrence with Amazon reviewer Neferet when they opine that “[Author Sean C. Wright’s GATHERING OF BUTTERFLIES] is a nice collection of interesting and clever short stories….”

Nice, indeed.

And I feel nicer as a human being for having read this diminutive collection of pithy and powerful (a redundancy I know, but one worth repeating) folksy parables; and I could tell without a doubt from reading them that the author herself is nice…

Really nice.

I just wish there had been more nice stories to appreciate — there are only four and the collection as a whole weighs in at just over a hundred pages.

Three of the stories are good, written light and fast with limited (but enough) character and setting development as one would expect to find in such folksy parables and morality tales.

However, one of the stories — Bubble Bath Twelve — is exceptional. I got so very and happily lost within that wonderful, beautiful tale and I regretted it when finally finding myself at its end. It compares easily with the best of anything William Faulkner has written, if the boozy, self-hating grouch were to have written such nice, lighthearted stories that didn’t stress the reader out with their unrelenting and migraine-inducing dialect.

Yeah, the story’s that good.

Outside of expanding this fine collection with more stories, I would recommend the author consider a more professional book cover. Personal preference, perhaps, but I think such fine writing deserves something a little better than its present adornment.

So, fantastic work by Ms. Wright, work that I highly recommend. I also recommend checking out her website. While it’s a little confusing to navigate, there the determined reader can find a treasure trove of her equally fun and interesting flash fiction, which, if you recall, is how all who gather here first became acquainted with her fine work.

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