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Friday, December 6, 2013

Literary Review - Reckonings by Gail Husch

Someone Wicked, a Written Remains anthology, was released by Smart Rhino Publications on November 25, 2013. Edited by Weldon Burge and JM Reinbold, Someone Wicked contains twenty-one tales of wickedness sure to please the most discerning reader.

Over the next few weeks, my plan is to read and review many, if not all, of the stories contained in Someone Wicked. I have not historically been a big anthology reader but having had the opportunity to get to know many of the authors through the Written Remains Writers Guild, I am excited at the prospect of discovering each  of their unique and individual writing styles.

Have you ever had the urge to get back at someone? We've all been cut off in traffic, had to wait behind that clown with a full buggy in front of us in the grocer's express line, or watched out of a window while the neighbor's dog used our front yard as its personal bio space, and so on. Daily life has many frustrations and even the nicest of us will occasionally have that fantasy in which the object of our ire receives their just desserts.

In literary terms Gail Husch refers to those moments as Reckonings. And her story in the Someone Wicked anthology allows the protagonist to not only engage in these fantasies but to cross the line into reality - to actually act upon her vengeful desires.  We don't ever learn the name of this person but I felt an immediate kinship from the opening lines:

The first thing you need to know: I don't own a single cat. Not one. I don't even like them, selfish, arrogant creatures.

I know that all the cat lovers will howl in despair and hate me but Reckonings, after all, is a work of fiction. And I'm a dog please allow me my own guilty pleasure.

Also, this tells us almost all we need to know about her: Bossy, superior, opinionated. Gosh...that sounds nearly...catlike. Still, the story moves on from there with each annoyance in the protagonist's life becoming an opportunity to get even with another careless perpetrator.

Reckonings feels good. But it also feels like something else. It feels a little guilty. Almost as if we, the readers, were the ones acting on those dark thoughts; acting out those carefully crafted plans. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading Reckonings but be careful; the line between fantasy and reality can be quite slippery.

Content disclosure: To prepare any potential reader for what they will encounter, I would point out that there are a couple of mild expletives in Reckonings. It is not a violent story per se, but the themes and actions convey a sense of contained violence that might not be well understood by young children. Hopefully this is to be expected in an anthology entitled Someone Wicked. If I were to give it any sort of rating that might guide parents, I would lean toward a mild PG. There is nothing here that one won't find on network television - and I'm not even talking late night cable. Please bear with me, as some readers of this blog are more conservative in nature, and it is important to me to provide this information for them.


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