In this debut short story collection, various characters pursue their dreams, which range from killing a spouse to having a romantic fling with Jesus Christ.
Kamm carefully crafts these 15 tales that all feature sympathetic characters. In “War’s End,” for example, a World War II soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder must deal with the adoration of his idealistic little brother. In “The Morgue,” a reporter goes inside that titular dark place to experience what it’s like to live there, while in “Lord of the Flesh,” biblical figure Mary Magdalene battles her lust for the Lord. Other stories are darkly humorous: In “So Help Me, God,” New Yorker Max Finkel drives a car in a snowstorm and gets into an accident that results in the death of his wife, Cookie; when he wakes, God appears to him in the form of his deceased Uncle Heshey, “dressed just as he was last time Max saw him: checkered pants, plaid jacket and wide striped tie knotted into a thick Windsor.” God agrees to bring Cookie back to life, but with conditions, including that Max confesses to Cookie that it was his fault, due to a low sperm count, that they never had children. God gives them another shot at childbearing, even though Cookie tells Max, “My uterus, may it rest in peace, is a collapsed balloon.” In “Just Desserts,” readers will likely feel for pharmacist Fred as his hypochondriac wife, Dora, complains about forgetting to take her medicine: “Now my stomach cramps are starting and I can feel my legs swelling by the minute. Think you can rub them a bit?” Readers may find that occasional descriptions are overwrought, as when “mountain peaks, jagged as a polygram, quiver in a smoky haze.” Overall, however, the plots and characters in this collection are consistently well-drawn.
An often terrific collection of stories from a vivid imagination.