Canadian author Beeching, in his debut, offers essays and short stories that comment on humanity’s faults and inequities.
This collection, Beeching states in his introduction, was created partially in response to the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. Although the book does not quite cohere, it does provide an impressive array of ideas and vignettes touching on mythology, art, history and pop culture. Many pieces are arch observations of an absurd, modern world, in which the rich and powerful prey upon the poor and disadvantaged in a society of mindless consumerism. In “Moral Clarity,” a U.S. court convicts a young Latin-American drug kingpin, ignoring his cultural-relativism defense and the fact that the prosecutor once proudly ran drugs for Reagan-era covert military ops. An essay about the late Thomas Kinkade defends the polarizing painter by invoking criticism of modern art, while “Phoenician Traders” depicts the complex relationship between a successful Lebanese Christian war refugee and a less-prosperous Muslim in New York City. “Easter Mass” depicts a reverent ritual ripped apart by a bombing as fleeing terrorists exult that they have slain the “infidels.” A recurring narrative highlights the ongoing family dramas and global concerns of a Berlin-born Canadian named Michael, an apparent stand-in for the author. There are occasional missteps, as when Beeching uses O. Henry–style surprise endings in his short stories, with mixed success. Overall, however, this collection displays a clever, erudite mind reflecting thoughtfully on the world’s foibles.
An engaging, eclectic mix of political parables and moral tales.