It has been a long time since John Stickney reviewed here. The review below came from John Stickney back in April 2017. It seemed like a good time today to remind you all of John’s review.
To paraphrase a Sheriff in one of the stories, There is a school of thought that there Lord does not give us more than we can bare but in a lot of theses stories He sure seems to be pushing it…This collection of short stories reveals the more literary side of crime fiction, many of the stories involve crime only in a tangential way. Like Art Taylor, Sanders knows that criminal activity is just another element in a well told story. Sanders touches on family and the dynamic between fathers and their sons, whether abandonment or devotion, between sons and their mothers, and when truth might emerge… “One night after Mom had one too many Schaefers…”
In Joyride, a fifteen abandoned by his father latches on to his nineteen year old cousin, newly released from Rahway State Prison…. “People crossed to the opposite sidewalk when they saw him coming. He had a swagger, a hardness which most rational folks immediately recognized: steer clear of that guy. The hackles of dogs would stand on end when he passed. But for me, just being around him made me feel tough as if toughness was contagious…” Introduced to the joy of stealing cars by his cousin, his first job was to dispose of a garbage bag full of license plates.…"like a Rouge Santa with an illegal pack of goods. And it did feel like Christmas in a way. Some sort of delinquent, sinister Christmas…”For as much pain as some of these stories offer, there are equal amounts of humor. For example this comment on matters marital...”Bacon sizzled in the skillet, a spatula clinking against a skillet, no doubt Deborah making exactly five piece for her own self and exactly zero for me, a perfect illustration of where our marriage stood.” (from Waiting on Joe)
The details ring true, in Jim Limey's Confession, Jim is telling his deathbed tale so it is not forgotten. A black man who cleaned the outhouses in a southern town knows who killed the missing little white girl but can't say. Even on hot days he can not be seen by white folks covering his mouth with a kerchief..."White folks didn’t like to see a Negro covering up his face at the smell of their business.” Imagine what could happen if you accused a white man of a crime.
In Moss Man, a farmer points out to the journalist seeking the Jersey Devil…”A jackass learns to plow a row by doing, not by being told.” It is a story about what the devil takes and what one man will do to survive.
This is a truly enjoyable and well written story collection, full of humor, ambiguity, and often no good choices. Highly recommended.
John Stickney ©2017, 2023
John Stickney is a writer formerly from Cleveland, Ohio now residing in North Carolina. His fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Demolition, Needle, among others.
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