Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A tasty first course

Bone Meal Broth

By Adam Cesare

Publisher: Rollin & Jeanie Press

Pub. Date: March, 2012

Rating: 3 & 1/2 out of 5 stars


Originally published in 2012, the short fiction collection titled Bone Meal Broth can be seen partially as a retrospective of Adam Cesare's early efforts. It may sound strange to call works of only 4 years ago and before as "early" yet if one has read anything later by the author such as Mercy House or Zero Lives Remaining, it is easy to see a maturation then and now. Or maybe it is because these are relatively brief short stories and, for the most part, goes for the shock with less development of character that novellas and novels allow. But however you see it, these stories are successful because they are capsule scares. They are pretty nasty frights at that. And, if I can theorize where I have little knowledge and authorization to do so, it seems to me that this may be exactly what he was focusing on at that time of his career; delivering a nasty jolt and making sure the reader felt it long after he read the lines. He seems to have perfected it well.

In Bone Meal Broth, we have 11 stories of varying quality. When they work, they are dynamite. When they don't, they are still not half bad. The winners include" The Still", a great example of going for the kill quickly, and "Rollins & Jeanie" with the moral perhaps being the family that plays together ain't quite right in the head. My favorite may be "Border Jumper" about two men who take a monster to a dog fight. I rooted for the monster. "The Girls in the Woods" is rather exquisite in its telling and deserves two readings to really get it.. The others range from good to uneven, yet they all show that Cesare is an author that knows how to deliver in the dark.

This is the first short fiction collection I have read by the author. I still prefer his novellas . They seems to be the perfect size for his imagination. But what these short pieces prove is that he can go straight to the shocker yet leave you with characters and situation that stick in your mind. If they feel too short it is because they are. But the short fiction fan will certainly want to check them out. For that matter, so will anyone else who likes good storytelling.

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