A genre-crossing short story collection that’s full of dark imagery.

A Cat Will Play

From the Shadow Book series , Vol. 2

Duda (Bedtime for Seneca, 2015) brings an eerie twist to three new character-driven tales in his second story collection.

A small, post-apocalyptic community summarily executes its weakest members in “CRDL.” A ghost meets her dead father and finally learns to let go in “Christmas Never Snows.” And in “Cosmo’s Tale,” a girl seeking more exciting friends realizes that sometimes the biggest changes need to come from inside, not from a new social group. The shortest of Duda’s three stories, “CRDL,” leaves a lasting impression; the acronym stands for “Care of the Reclaimed and Deceased Beloved” and represents a chilling process of composting noncontributing members of society in order to provide energy and resources for the survivors. There are overtones of Ursula K. Le Guin’s famous 1973 story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” here, but they’re inverted: those who seek to change or leave the society inevitably end up joining the others in death. The second tale features two sets of parents and children—Miss Leal, a ghost whose late father, Flit, attempts to convince her to move on; and a new trio: Tim, who committed a crime for Samantha, the abusive mother of a crippled daughter. When the daughter inadvertently breaks three dolls that are important to Miss Leal, Flit is able to finally get through to his child. The parallels between the two broken families never quite gel, though the idea that the ghosts can find healing and wholeness implies hope for the living. The majority of the book is comprised of “Cosmo’s Tale,” the story of Esther, an eighth-grader who wants more from her life than just following the rules. She’s selected Trish, a marijuana-smoking rebel, to be her new friend and recruits her for a school charity. When Trish takes the money for the fundraiser, leading to tragedy, Esther becomes an outcast, and it’s only through thoroughly messing up a potential friendship with another girl that she realizes that there are more important things than one’s reputation. Esther’s growth comes off as genuine, and her development from being a self-centered person to one who can reach out to others is well-drawn.

A genre-crossing short story collection that’s full of dark imagery.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9863647-2-3

Page Count: 50

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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