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Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review:Odds and Ends: An Assortment of Sorts by Dustin LaValley

Odds and Ends: An Assortment of Sorts 
by Dustin LaValley
free flash fiction collection
"Extraordinary. Hauntingly poignant."--Thomas Ligotti, author of My Work Is Not Yet Done
LaValley got some great blurbs on this collection. It reads as various an opuscule of compositions, of a writer tampering with form, honing craft. Most pontificate on existence, consciousness, reality, life and death.

One effective piece has a young man offer food to his mother staring off in the distance and swipes at him when he draws near. It turns out she's a zombie. Some readers might dismiss this with a musical da-da-da. But this mirrors well what happens in life, for many families. A loved one loses cognizance, reacts aggressively towards loved ones. What can you do?

My favorite is a young boy who crawls behind a washing machine to follow a spider but gets stuck for a day and a night until his father frees him, but he tastes death. Painfully transformative.

Another good one is "A Secret Love"--a lovely or "unlovely"? unreliable narrator that talks about his love that only he and she knew about. He'd follow her home, two blocks behind, and he knew she loved him back by the way she stared at him out the window. Well, apart from the hopefully harmless if creepy stalking, many humans have had such a "love." Condemning the poor befuddled lad condemns the condemner as most of us have loved those who didn't return the love and misinterpreted signals. Poor kid's headed for heartbreak, though. Your mileage may vary, but there's plenty to ponder in so short a tale.

There are some gems here. Why not mine the territory? The field is fertile, sitting there for the picking.

It's also interesting to watch this writer develop. He's written the superb mind-screw with "The Deceived" which is well worth reading.

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