January 13, 2017
A Review by Chris Fried
In this special Valentine’s Day edition of Canyons, love takes on new meaning as it’s distorted and utilized in all-new innovative short stories. From a woman taking revenge on men to a farcical problem involving two women who love the same man, from long lost lovers and doomed relationships, love is everywhere in this collection. And what collection of horrific love stories would be complete without a love poem or of tales where love goes dreadfully wrong? Read these short stories of love gone awry, starting with:
S. Elliot Brandis’ “Swipe Right” – Mae is on the prowl for a good time, using the Tinder app to find someone who will fulfill her needs. But her needs are more than meets the eye and when she finds the right guy, the story gives us a completely unexpected turn of events! A delicious confection of seduction and violence, with some eviscerating surprises that cut me to the core like a razor-sharp knife. And you will cheer her actions by the end of the story.
Nathan M. Beauchamp’s “94.2% (A Romance)” – Jonathan is having problems with his landlord, who believes he’s clogged the plumbing. However, what’s causing the problem here leads to marital strife and a painful problem with a heart-wrenching solution! I was enraptured by the different revelations and complicated dynamics of this unusual relationship and ultimately by how the story illustrated it.
Will Swardstrom’s “After The End” – Sadie has survived both the apocalypse and her own personal hell. After many years of not having any human contact, why is there someone hiding in her home and who are they? A creepy tale of stalking gone wrong that dredges up dread and electrified me once I discovered the full extent of what was happening. It takes the phrase “be mine” to a whole new level.
Hester J. Rook’s “The Sparrows in her Hair” – A woman patiently waits on the beach for someone in anticipation of his arrival. A searing poem that engages all your senses and quickens your pulse as you read it.
Kevin Lauderdale’s “James and the Gentry” – James receives a message to help a friend in need right away and finds he’s landed into a tangled situation in which he cannot extricate himself. Of course, this problem involves not one but two women and one of them is over a hundred years old (!). A magical and madcap English comedy that induces giggles and laughs as James falls head over heels (but not necessarily in love) and falls in deep over his head into you know what.
Jessica West’s “Hell Zoo: Valentines Day Exhibit” – Tiba is a tour guide for a special zoo where the exhibits are those whose souls are tortured over and over. As we meet the inhabitants of those enclosures, we learn what led them to their present fate and why they are so dangerous. The anecdotes for each these despondent souls is blistering, brutal and downright cruel. But their stories and the storytelling are both clever and pathologically demented in all the best of ways, successfully enveloping you in the tragedy of each soul we meet. By the time we reach the end, we’re mentally spent and our mood becomes depressed, feeling broken-hearted with what we just read.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “Angel’s Catch” – Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. But this is no ordinary fairy tale and the reasons they do this is for water which could save their village. As they reach the pool of water, secrets are revealed and it all suspensefully culminates into a terrifying finale that holds your heart hostage. This simple fairy tale is significantly and delightfully darkened, swerving into unanticipated directions while entrancing me the whole time with its twist on the traditional tale.
After reading these tales of love and all of the different ways it causes us to act, you will never look at it the same way again. And you will be glad that your love lives (hopefully) never get this disturbing and gruesome.
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