Thursday, March 20, 2014

Soldier

I haven't written any poetry in a very long time. So here's a memory of a time when I was still feeling inspired. 'Soldier', nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010.


Soldier
    
Staring at the darkened sky
I can almost keep up the pretense
of being home, but the stray dogs
and the men’s snores keep me awake
in my rocky grave, thinking
of the many times I kissed women
I shouldn’t have but never feeling
as unfaithful to you as when I hug
my heavy gun close to my chest.

The shadow of death trails behind us
even on overcast days, it dims
the image of home until I can barely
recall the memory of you. I’m not alone,
just lonely as a sky without birds.

Explosions outshine the stars
night after night, the thunder
brings bloody rain. Amid the hot fumes
of oil and tire I dream — sometimes awake —
of new-mown grass, cicadas and homemade cakes.
Is it springtime back home? I forget.

Staring at the clouds, I begin to see
camels and minarets, rarely any
familiar shapes. There may be something
to Rorschach, after all. It feels like I inhabit
the life of a stranger, like my breath
powers a force that isn’t entirely me.

Days old, sun-dried sweat begins
to sting on the parched skin,
the shamal whips up the sand
lashing us with vicious shower until
my mouth becomes a desert too.

I’m not afraid, just doubtful sometimes.
They say this is for real, the generals,
and that we are going to win,
but when I feel that rush I never
expected to feel, it’s all less real,
like a game on my home console
where the enemy is just a machine,
a faceless algorithm that can only
lose or win. Out here, it feels
like there’s so much more in between.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Inspiration

Last night, I was returning home from a visit to my folks. It was late, dark, with only the milky headlights flashing by and red break lights pulsating around road curves ahead. The radio was off because the kid was asleep in his car seat in the back. It was a murky, heavy sort of evening with Monday looming just the other side of darkness. And it got me thinking about True Detective.

It is the best series I've seen in  a long while, perhaps ever. I love the dialogue, Rusty's philosophical bits, the atmospheric shots, the phenomenal acting, the music, the complex and yet simple characters. Everything. And to think that it was all written by a single person - Chapeau, Mr. Pizzolatto!

Out of that tangle of thoughts and the anticipation of the season finale, a stray thought appeared and it solved the ending of my short story in progress. Just like that. I didn't think of the story once the entire day. In fact, I'd deserted the story two weeks ago in order for me to forget about it, to cleanse my mind, and return to it with fresh eyes at a later date.

It's a story in the thriller mode of Daphne du Maurier. I have a good conflict and compelling characters, but the ending was ineffective and just blah. I'd struggled with it for a while, before I decided to leave it until I find a better solution. Last night I found it. I searched for my phone and quickly typed the idea in my notebook app (I wasn't driving!). With one unexpected stroke, it solved the entire problem. It gave me a wrap up that actually doesn't wrap anything up (I know it sounds confusing, but it's oh so perfect), and it retains the tension between the characters.

Out of the darkness, ideas emerge.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

American Gothic

Remember my piece on Damon's search for meaning and why that makes him such a bastard? That was back in April. April 2010, that is. The following essay was supposed to be written right after that one. Well, at least, an essay on the Gothic elements in TVD. Of course, over the course of three years and three additional seasons, the plot developped far beyond the scope of that originally planned essay. So this is (I hope) a better version of it.

This time I'm focusing on Elena as the Gothic heroine and what it is about her that compels us to watch every new episode. If you're in the mood for some talk on TVD during the hiatus, here's my two cents. Voice your opinions in the comments. Do you agree or not, do you think I'm way off? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you just want to say hi, you're welcome too. :-)




American Gothic

There are many Gothic films and TV shows being made these days. And yet, their appeal doesn’t pale. Week after week thousands of viewers tune in to their favourite vampire/witch/werewolf/other-supernatural-creatures show on TV. Mostly, these spectators are teenagers or, like in my case, adults who refuse to grow up. My choice of poison is The Vampire Diaries which is a textbook case of a Gothic TV show. It has everything, from Gothic settings (the old house where Stefan hides the coffins, the secret tunnel beneath the Lockwood mansion, the cemetery where Stefan first meets Elena, the Salvatore mansion etc.) to Gothic characters and monsters (ghosts, witches, vampires, need I go on?). These features add extra suspense and drama for the viewers, but what truly draws us to TVD functions on a more psychological level and through our identification with the protagonist of the show. Elena experiences a profound transformation, not only in terms of her becoming a vampire, but also as a teenager trying to find her identity in the world of grown-ups. 

© CW
The main driving force of Gothic fiction is fear – fear of the unknown, of the less than decent desires and urges in us, of the anger festering in our wounds. As spectators, we (are invited to) project such vile emotions onto the on-screen monsters, we stick our worst features on them and then we watch their ugliness with satisfaction (well, not in Damon’s case, there’s no ugliness to speak of there). The human protagonists of Gothic shows have to bear the brunt of the violence and abuse from the monsters because Gothic “confronts the principal characters with the gross violence of physical or psychological dissolution, explicitly shattering the assumed norms (...) of everyday life with wildly shocking, and even revolting, consequences.” (Hogle 3) Remember Elena’s shock when she realizes that Stefan is a vampire? Or how sickened she is by Damon’s brutality and mercilessness? The evil and carnage that the brothers attract and dole out changes her view of life; post-brothers nothing is safe or sacred – the things she took for granted are now endangered and threatened. 

But on the psychological level, what Damon and Stefan signify is merely “the unconscious as a deep repository of very old, infantile, and repressed memories or impulses, the archaic underworld of the self.” (Hogle 3) In TVD, we get to see the two opposite poles of this. While Damon is acting the infantile impulses out, Stefan is trying to repress them at all cost. With the brothers representing each a different extreme, they create a sense of hopelessness – they seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It seems that being a vampire is a lot like being human and especially a teenager. The struggle is never over. “The longevity and power of Gothic fiction unquestionably stem from the way it helps us address and disguise some of the most important desires, quandaries, and sources of anxiety, from the most internal and mental to the widely social and cultural, throughout the history of western culture since the eighteenth century.” (Hogle 4)

This is where Elena comes in. At the beginning of the first season, her life is turned upside down. In the opening scenes, we see her mourning her parents who died in a car accident that she miraculously survived (it is later revealed that Stefan saved her). Although her aunt Jenna steps in as their guardian, Elena nonetheless feels responsible for Jeremy and takes up the role not only of the older sibling, but that of a parent. She is forced to mourn her parents and to become a parent by a single traumatic event. This is typical of contemporary Gothic which “markedly registers a crisis in personal history: in the world depicted in such works, one is forced simultaneously to mourn the lost object (a parent, God, social order, lasting fulfilment through knowledge or sexual pleasure) and to become the object lost through identification or imitation. This history of repetition, (...), constitutes a sense of trauma, and it is finally through trauma that we can best understand the contemporary Gothic and why we crave it.” (Bruhm 268) 

It is at this point in her life that Elena meets Stefan. “He came into my life at a time when I needed someone,” she says to Damon in 3x23. Again, on the psychological level, her meeting Stefan is a coping strategy in which she needs a monster to blame it for everything bad that’s happened to her.  The threat of the supernatural echoes the dangers of growing up, of taking on new responsibilities. Damon’s killing sprees and Stefan’s fear of his own darker self mirror Elena’s insecurities and her fear of losing control. Her very earthly problems have been transformed into supernatural nightmares. Elena becomes a “traumatized (heroine) who (has) lost the very psychic structures that allow (her) access to (her) own experiences. (...) such narratives emphasize a lost object, that object being the self.” (Bruhm 269) But Elena’s development hasn’t stopped yet, and I’ll touch upon that later on.
Elena is a Gothic heroine, and one of their characteristics is that they “seek both to appease and to free themselves from the excesses of male and patriarchal dominance.” (Hogle 5) The first Gothic heroine in TVD is Katherine who had an unconventional affair with both Salvatore brothers back in the 18th century. She and her friend Pearl were strong women who weren’t afraid of the despots of Mystic Falls. They took care of themselves and they resisted the societal norms of the day, they represented the “journey of women coming into some power and property by their own and other feminine agency” (Hogle 10). Put quite plainly – they kicked ass. Elena is steadfastly following their steps by tirelessly fighting her battles.

On the other hand, “women are the figures most fearfully trapped between contradictory pressures and impulses.” (Hogle 9) Elena as the main character has been put through more than any other character on the show, but she’s remained steadfast, compassionate, empathetic, and loving. She takes care of herself and her loved ones. She never gives up or relies on anyone to solve a problem instead of her. When Stefan is captured by the tomb vampires (1x17), she insists she go with Alaric and Damon to save him. Again, when Stefan is missing in season four, she keeps searching for him, never giving up or losing hope. She saves Jeremy’s ass a gazillion times and even saves Damon when Lexi’s boyfriend tries to turn him into a living torch (1x11, this even before they became all cuddly and friendly). But all the pain that her burdens bring, the grief, the strain and stress, leave a mark on her. She is torn, she is broken in ways even she doesn’t know. There’s just as much drama going on in her soul as there is in her life. She is constantly on the edge, waiting for the next calamity to hit and cause more pain, more irreversible damage. She is not only a teenager, she is a bereaved, hurting teenager prone to attracting monsters of every sort imaginable. Her life sucks.

As if that is not enough, “the female Gothic involves the haunting of a woman by another woman (usually a rival, a Doppelganger, or a mother).” (Kavka 219) Elena has to put up with all of the above as she is simultaneously haunted by Katherine, her scheming Doppelganger and rival, and Elena’s even more scheming biological mother, Isobel, who was turned into a vampire by Damon. The latter one shows up when Elena discovers that she was adopted and “the recovery of a lost or hidden maternal origin” (Hogle 10) ensues.[1] But Isobel is no mummy dearest, she was a vampire groupie who left her husband Alaric in order to become a vampire. Now she comes back to haunt Elena. Get in line, mommy!

Life as such can be challenging, but when we lose a loved one it is even more difficult to find ourselves. Our families shape a part of our identity and with someone’s death, we lose that little part of ourselves. “Through the Gothic, we remind ourselves, albeit in disguise, that something like a return to the confusion and loss of identity in being half-inside and half-outside the mother, and thus not entirely dead nor clearly alive, may await us behind any old foundation, paternal or otherwise, on which we try, by breaking it up, to build a brave new world.” (Hogle 5) What are vampires if not “not entirely dead nor clearly alive”? And what is more confusing and causes a more important search for identity than being on the cusps of becoming an adult? Building a brave new world is something we all aspire to when growing up, but no one more so than Elena who’s lost too many family members and friends due to the evil walking the streets of Mystic Falls. She’s struggling to push the past (symbolized by the undead vamps, ghosts etc.) back where it belongs and to look forward into a brighter future (starting college this season, y’all!). But the stakes are raised when she falls in love with the past (first Stefan, then Damon), and then becomes part of it by being turned into a vampire herself. 

The game is being played on a whole new level now that she’s fighting something that is part of her; the battlefield has been internalized. She despairs in season four, telling Damon that, “Jeremy can’t live with me, Stefan wants to fix me, and Caroline flat out admitted that she doesn’t like me this way.” (4x07) She’s not welcome anywhere, she can’t find her place. She’s voicing the trauma not only of being a new vampire, but also, metaphorically, of being a new adult. She is neither here, nor there. Her identity is slipping – can she be humane if she’s a vampire? Can she be a true vampire if she’s too caring? Who is she? Are her friends afraid of her? Is she a failure? Is she still Elena? Why does she feel so dead? Why does it all have to be so complicated? Why don’t all the feelings just STOP?!?

In contrast, Damon, being his usual selfish (but also not so selfish) self, tells her he’s never seen her more alive. He loves her and he gives in to his desire (as vampires are wont to do), and Elena more than welcomes his advances. She begins to see herself in him, she finds it easier to accept herself by accepting him, her “monstrous (counterpart) that (seems) “uncanny” in their unfamiliar familiarity while also conveying overtones of the archaic and the alien in their grotesque mixture of elements viewed as incompatible by established standards of normality.” (Hogle 7) Damon was the ultimate evil when she first met him. It was unthinkable that she could ever begin to care for him. But now, for Elena, loving him is the metaphorical acceptance of herself. She’s come to terms with who she is. Damon was (is?) a throat-ripping, mindlessly violent beast. And yet, there is something in him that Elena can love. He is sick, perverted and broken, but redeemable. This makes her believe that she is too, despite becoming a monster.

This is where we get back to the importance of Elena’s role with the Salvatore brothers and the viewers. Because becoming a vampire is not all bunnies and sunshine (especially not the latter, and the former is only good for Stefan anyhow). The transformation at first doesn’t help Elena re-focus her identity. She doesn’t become fully monstrous because she doesn’t discard her humanity (apart from the short period when she turns off her emotions). But she’s also not human. Becoming a vampire adds another item to her ‘failure’ list. Her sense of self is being shattered further, into even smaller pieces. “(The) loss of wholeness, that destruction of the thing in favour of many things, so obsesses Gothic fiction in the later twentieth century that many such narratives are about the impossibility of narrative.” (Bruhm 269) At the beginning of the series, this “impossibility of narrative” is shown through the consequences of compulsion. Elena can’t remember meeting Damon on the night her parents die because he compels her. Similarly, she has no recollection of him telling her that he loves her. The narrative of her life is interrupted; there are parts of her, in her, that she has no access to. This ties in with the idea of one’s identity being the “lost object” of the Gothic tale. It is only when she becomes a vampire that she regains access to these hidden corners of her soul, and then slowly, when she accepts her new fate, she starts joining all the pieces into one whole personality again. As a vampire, she is powerful and this gives her the strength to be afraid, to be frail, to recognize her weak points. 

© CW

 But before this happens, a change is needed in her life. Stefan is no longer the right person for her. He is too much like her. Elena needs someone to pull her out of her miserable corner where she’s hiding her shame and insecurities. Damon is the ideal candidate for this because he’s accepted his monstrous side. With his help, Elena can retain her humanity and accept with her vampire cravings, finding her place in the middle. In doing this, she could also help both brothers by pulling them towards the middle and away from the extremes that they’ve been occupying for over a century. Additionally, as the most grounded character, Elena is the one that viewers can identify with most easily. She’s the character that – despite not having all the answers, or any at all – shows us that that is okay, that it is acceptable to be confused and lost because that is most often the natural state of humans. “No other form of writing or theatre is as insistent as Gothic on juxtaposing potential revolution and possible reaction (...) and leaving both extremes sharply before us and far less resolved than conventional endings in most of these works claim them to be.” Such Gothic narratives “enact and reflect the most intense and important ambivalences in modern western culture.” (Hogel 11-12) 

With Elena’s help “monstrous figures (are no longer) terrifying objects of animosity expelled in the return of social and symbolic equilibrium. Instead, they retain a fascinating, attractive appeal: no longer object of hate or fear, monstrous others become sites of identification, sympathy, desire, and self-recognition. Excluded figures once represented as malevolent, disturbed, or deviant monsters are rendered more humane (...) Transgression becomes just another permitted social activity.” (Botting 286) This all starts when Elena accepts Stefan despite his vampirism. Then, she convinces her friends that he is one of the good guys. This in turn fuels what at the beginning seems impossible – the acceptance of Damon, a veritable monster. Caroline turning is just another stepping stone towards making Elena’s transformation possible so that when she, as the heroine of the show, becomes a vampire, the act of transgression is already accepted and acceptable. We are slowly being convinced that being a vampire is not in itself an evil thing. “In Gothic times margins may become the norm and occupy a more central cultural place.” (Botting 286)

So, why is The Vampire Diaries so popular with viewers? There are some obvious reasons, such as Damon, good cast, excellent writing, the older Salvatore brother, intriguing plot lines, the kickass action ... did I mention Damon? I did? Hm. Anyhow, there’s also the Gothic aspect of things. Modern life has become so messy that we need to channel our fears and insecurities through on-screen monsters. “We need (Gothic) because the twentieth century has so forcefully taken away from us that which we once thought constituted us – a coherent psyche, a social order to which we can pledge allegiance in good faith, a sense of justice in the universe – and that wrenching withdrawal, that traumatic experience, is vividly dramatized in the Gothic.” (Bruhm 273) And the key word here is ‘dramatized’ because, as Walter Benjamin says, “such horror narratives confirm for us that we are spectators, safely distanced onlookers whose integrity is guaranteed by the dissolution of another.” (quoted in Bruhm 272) We are neither the haunted protagonists, nor the despicable monsters doing the haunting. We are safely removed, on the other side of the screen.

This process of ‘venting through Gothic’ is particularly welcome in the vulnerable teenage period because it mirrors the search for identity, the lostness and all that godawful hurting. Teens can identify with the on-screen protagonists because they seem to be going through similar horrors (albeit supernatural) as themselves. Elena’s perfect life was shattered and we follow her struggle to reclaim a sense of normalcy and peace again. She’s just like us (except for, you know ... the looks, the line of boys vying for her heart, the perfect hair ...). Gothic offers us relief because “it allows us in ghostly disguises of blatantly counterfeit fictionality to confront the roots of our beings in sliding multiplicities (from life becoming death to genders mixing to fear becoming pleasure and more) and to define ourselves against these uncanny abjections, while also feeling attracted to them.” (Hogle 17)


References

Botting, F. 2002. “Aftergothic: consumption, machines, and black holes.” Hogle, J. E. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 277-300.

Bruhm, S. 2002. “Contemporary Gothic: why we need it.” Hogle, J. E. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 259-76.

Hogle, J.E. 2002. “Introduction: the Gothic in western culture.” Hogle, J. E. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 1-20.

Kavka, M. 2002. “Gothic on screen.” Hogle, J. E. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 209-28.

The Vampire Diaries. CW. 2009-2013. Television.


[1] As an aside, this Gothic characteristic of a “recovery of a lost or hidden maternal origin” offers a nice opportunity to TPTB to explore the origins of the Salvatore brothers. We know nothing about their mother, and perhaps there’s a whole new storyline in there. It could add another dimension to the brothers and their upbringing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Who Saw the Deep by Christine Klocek-Lim



Who Saw the Deep by Christine Klocek-Lim
Published: November 8th by Evernight

So aliens aren’t little green men? Huh. Well, in Who Saw The Deep aliens are a little bit closer to us than we tend to think. By combining sci-fi with old myths, Klocek-Lim creates a believable scenario through a fast-paced plot. More than by the technical sci-fi stuff, which I’m not very good at, I was drawn by the questions raised by the novel’s storyline–the implied suggestion that we’ve become alien to ourselves, that we’re trying to invade and/or destroy our own planet. The juxtaposition of sci-fi and myths, of the inconceivable quantum technology of the shuttle and the forest it lands in. Of the scary weaponry and the simple (is it ever?) power of love. It all perhaps suggests that we’re relying too much on the artificial, the technology, instead of relying on our roots, origins, nature. Or maybe we’re just supposed to reconcile the two aspects, use one with the help of the other, and vice versa. But let’s move on to the characters and story ...

Noah and Amelia. Their relationship is gripping from the start. Despite the age difference, it feels so natural and right. Klocek-Lim’s portrayal of Amelia is wonderful. She’s so unusual and surprising that one has to love her. I actually preferred her in the first part of the novel, precisely because of this unusualness. What I would perhaps want more of is Noah’s backstory. The novel focuses mainly on Amelia, we get only a glimpse at Noah’s unhappy return to his father’s house, but we hear little about why he’s not happy and what spurred on the return and his abandoning a career in IT. The supporting characters are well developed, too, especially Jamie. I loved how his crazy beliefs were finally vindicated, but poor man has little time to celebrate this with the events developing so quickly.

The story unfolds with a fast pace, perhaps faster in the first part and slows down in the second (but maybe that’s me not being a sci-fi geek again). Noah being the sceptic helps make the first sightings of the unusual shuttle believable, and from then on, the events build up, strengthening the relationships between characters and revealing their motivations. Even in the thick of the action, we never get only the technical aspect of the events, the characters’ emotions are always involved and that’s what makes this novel a good read. It’s sci-fi, but anyone can relate with Amelia’s and Noah’s struggle because it’s presented through how they feel and think, not just through nano-materials and quantum technology. 

To paraphrase the novel’s blurb - the anonymous acts of ordinary individuals keep the civilisation afloat, but they also make these individuals extraordinary and worthy of being the protagonists of such a good novel.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

TEXT

TEXT Journal published my poem 'The house I will live in' in its October issue. I'm very proud of that because TEXT is an academic journal focusing on writing.

'The house I will live in' has been published first in the Language>Place blog carnival. For this second publication, I revised it extensively. Now, it very nicely expresses the idea behind my PhD proposal and the novel I'm working on. It encapsulates everything I'm interested in lately - cultural translation, language-identity relation, foreignness ... Researching these aspects of my writing is very rewarding. I've learned a lot about the craft, the art, and myself.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Steal my Sunshine by Emily Gale



Steal my Sunshine by Emily Gale
published by Woolshed Press in July 2013

Both novels for teens by Emily Gale are preoccupied with family relations. While Girl Aloud focused more on the relationship between daughter and father, Steal my Sunshine focuses on three generations of women in the Moon family. The location this time is Melbourne during a heat wave. This made it perfect to read as we’ve just had a heat wave of our own. 

Hannah is an unassuming, shy girl who tries to stay out of the lime light. To compensate for her life in the shadows, she’s best friend with an opinionated and wild Chloe, and she’d the only one in her family who seems to truly care for the eccentric grandmother Essie. But then things begin to fall apart. Her crush on Chloe’s brother Evan distances her from her friend, and Essie shares a secret that turns out to be the undoing for Hannah’s family. Hannah seems to be the only one that can bring the people surrounding her together again.

Steal my Sunshine, just like Girl Aloud, is a wonderful mix of realistic, everyday dialogues and beautiful prose. The first make it feel like a story that could happen to all of us, the second turn it into a beautiful read and a tale with a lasting message. The plot is further divided into the present day story told from the point of view of Hannah, and the story from the past, told from Essie’s point of view. But even when it switches from the present to the past and back, the plot runs smoothly. The book shows extensive research, but not one scene is a mere info dump. The facts are told through the story and the characters’ emotions.

Gale touches upon the practices of the Magdalene Laundries and the double-faced teachings of the Church – the love and kindness the Church preached about and the harsh punishments delivered to ‘morally questionable’ girls and women. Rather than moralizing, Gale shows how such harsh practices affected more than just the actual victims; through Hannah’s story she shows the ripple effect that reached two later generations of Essie’s family.

Essie, although being a victim of her family’s and the society’s broken moral compass, is not presented as a simple, good, person who was terribly ill-treated because of her youthful rashness. Instead, she is painted as a complex woman who was indeed wronged, with tragic consequences, but who in turn did her own wrongdoing. And this makes her an intriguing, compelling character. One that is fun to read about and that can be in turn a good role model but also a cautioning tale to Hannah. 

By giving Essie her voice Gale symbolically gives the voice to the numerous victims, but that means that on occasion Essie’s story threatens to prevail over Hannah’s story. Particularly as Hannah is so unsure of herself, so lost, that she needs others (like Chloe and Essie) to draw strength from. In the end, though, she is the one who directs the show, both literally and metaphorically. She learns to make the right choices, to think for herself. And isn’t that the only map we need in life?

I can’t but mention the book cover. Unlike Girl Aloud, which I thought had a somewhat misleading cover, the cover of Steal my Sunshine is not just beautiful but it symbolizes Hannah, a girl who starts out in the shadows until she shows her true beauty in full sunshine.

Steal my Sunshine is a tale of heartbreak and hope, the past and the present, of forgiveness and acceptance. Beautiful read.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This is how you die

This is how you die (Machine of Death #2) has finally been published in July. It was launched at Comic Con in San Diego. I read the book as soon as I got it. Of course I'm very proud of having my story published in it (and I would say it was good even if it weren't), still, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the range of stories included. I loved the first collection of stories in the series, Machine of Death. I expected something similar of this book. But like I said, I was surprised.

Where the stories in the first collection focused mainly on humour and surprise twists, this second volume is so eclectic and amazing that it is hard to describe it with just a few words. In a book where all the stories share the same premise one would expect the same topics and themes being repeated ad infinitum. Not so in This is how you die. The scope of themes, the styles, the narratives are so diverse that I do not envy the editors that had to read hundreds of stories and pick just a few to include in the collection.


The subject matters range from heartbreaking in such stories as 'Old age, surrounded by loved ones' or 'Blunt force trauma delivered by spouse', to hilarios as in 'Meat eater', speculative in 'Drowning burning falling flying','Not applicable' or 'Toxoplasmosis of the brain', shocking as in 'Execution by beheading' to Sherlock Holmes making an appearance in 'Apitoxin'. We even get a peek into the pre-Revolution Paris in 'La mort d'un roturier'. All these stories, and plenty of others, are a delight to read. Go buy your copy now, you won't regret it. 


Amazon    

Book Depository

Indie Bound

Hachette