Monday, March 21, 2016

The Thing About Great White Sharks and Other Stories

Loved the title of the book and its cover illustration- Rebecca Adams Wright's debut collection of 15 short stories titled 'The Thing About Great White Sharks and Other Stories'. Loved the quirky stories. They're unbelievably fun, even when some stories are sadder, they're thought-stirring, ending on the most interesting notes. (Reviews on goodreads.)

Wah, the first story 'Sheila' already made me blink. Of a world where dogs are mechanical, and not just flesh and bone. Then an incident with dead children and three mechanical dogs made the world turn against mechanical pets, the new laws made them illegal. John, a retired district judge who has lost his wife to illness, spent his twilight years alone with his mechanical Brittany spaniel, Sheila. The dog was bought when his wife was ill, and Sheila cheered up everyone. Almost predictably and sadly, the story quietly led us to John's suicide in the filled bathtub via electrocution. Not in so many words, but hinted strongly at. There could be no other ending more poignant. John had opened Sheila's water-proof covers, exposed her inner circuits, and hugged her into the bathtub. This was the preferred way instead of having the county take Sheila. John had nothing more to live for.

'Orchids' is really sweet. A silver-years romance between Cynthia Fleisbein and her neighbor Roland Stefflokous who lives a 12-minute walk away, grows gorgeous flowers and orchids in a hothouse; shared conversation topics and hobbies, and finally a most foul murder committed by Roland's nephew, a bit of mystery about talking orchids, and finally in loving remembrance.

They perked up a bit there, but no matter how long she sat with them or how often she spoke to them, they never spoke back. 
She found herself missing their voices. Though actually, she supposed she was missing Roland. It was hard to believe she would never touch him again. And their long, engaging chats, his booming laugh, they were all gone forever. Really, the flowers had sounded quite a bit like him—the way they said her name, especially, with Roland's same odd emphasis on the first syllable...

The title story talks about a dystopia where humans live under martial law. 'The Thing About Great White Sharks' shows readers about a world where chosen humans become test subjects to duel with sharks, snakes and whatever else at a forbidding place named Kierkegaard BioResearch Facility. It's a test of survival. To kill or be killed. Jennifer, the protagonist also had to club her golden retriever to death when it was ill with the Fever. Apparently, the Fever caused animals to go berserk and lunge at humans to tear their throats apart. Cute doves, annoying pigeons included and bees included. Jennifer is a 'Clockwork', a human who exhibited an "extraordinary level of calm detachment." She is a test subject at Kierkegaard. She had dueled with a Burmese python with a katana, a hammerhead with a sea-pistol but doesn't know if she would survive the third round. She had to find a way out, to survive. "Nobody makes it out of Kierkegaard a third time."

Shock wasn't what I felt, exactly. What I felt was a heavy resignation. Unlike Ethan, I harbored no illusions about what our military might condone in order to win a biological war. If they had developed a new strain of the virus to unleash on our 'enemies' and tested that weapon on Yasmin, they would test it on me. No wonder no one was coming back from the third round of "challenged observation." 
"I've torn down the screens and opened the windows," I said. "I unchained all the doors too. And I dumped a trail of garbage from the back lot to the kitchen. I'd say you've got six or eight minutes, tops, before this apartment is crawling with murderous urban vermin. Now is the time to leave, Ethan. Trust me: I'm going to be okay." 
The Kierkegaard people arrived not long after, but though my husband wasn't there, I'm pleased to say that the rats and the raccoons didn't let them find me alone.

No comments: