ShoeBox Train Wreck

John Mantooth. ChiZine (Diamond, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-926-85154-9
Mantooth gives a clear-eyed, if depressing, view of human nature in this collection of 16 short stories that exemplify one character's viewpoint that "the dead really don't haunt the living. The living haunt the dead." The selection reveals an inordinate fondness for school bus-related tragedies, including two stories that hinge on their catastrophic collisions with railroad trains, but the overall variety of disasters mostly stem from momentary lapses of attention or judgment. But whether the lead destroys his life and others' lives by driving drunk, or from having an epiphany about the only way to stop a bully, the aftershocks of the violence resonate long into the future. The most powerful entry is "This is Where the Road Ends," which toggles between 2006, when the drunk lead character hits and kills a child with his car and decides to cover up the accident, and 2010, when the lies he has crafted to allow himself to continue living come home to roost. There's nothing fancy hereā€”just good, spare, bleak storytelling, and some haunting images that will stick with readers like the kid at the end of the road. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 25 pages - 978-1-927469-49-1
Ebook - 264 pages - 978-1-927469-05-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-7696-6
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