I became a fan of Bradford Morrow somewhat late in the game. He's been writing, teaching and winning awards for sometime now. Yet I only I read, loved and reviewed The Diviner's Tale last year, but I could barely wait to read more by him. I was thrilled when I was sent an advance copy of his book of short stories, The Uninnocent.
Working in a different format than his last novel, Morrow is freed from structure. It's actually quite surprising how his voice changes from tale to tale. While not really modern Gothic or supernatural, like The Diviner's Tale, these stories are incredibly dark. Most are told in the first person, making the psychological insight all the more disturbing. These are creatures who suffer from an extreme form of desperation, yet remind us how fine that line is for all of us.
|From O. Henry's Full House (1952)|
Lush is like a modern version of an O. Henry story. It recalls The Gift of the Magi and The Last Leaf, though in a completely different and dysfunctional way. My favorite might be the eponymous tale in which a child recalls seeing the ghost of his brother. The narrator speaks with simplicity. He captures how a child speaks before he thinks, not restrained by the embarrassments that we acquire as we age. And it is this naivete that makes his story even more unsettling. Ellie's Idea is strangely amusing, but not all of the stories leave one satisfied. This collection is not for the squeamish, and should probably be read in the daylight hours and in small doses. But I mean that as a compliment. Morrow draws you into the characters' minds, gets you dizzy, then leaves you to find your own way home. It's well done and enjoyable; just be sure to drop some breadcrumbs along the way.
Many thanks to Claiborne at Pegasus Books for the advance copy.
Size 6 x 9
December 5, 2011