A short story is a shard, a sliver, a vignette. It’s a biopsy on the human condition but it doesn’t have this capacity to think autonomously for itself. ~Will Self
“Ultimate Sampler of Exciting, Talented Authors”
“Eager to meet great writers? Well, the short story is the ideal medium to discover new favorites. A single folio of short stories is the perfect platform to display the literary craft of intriguing authors—as displayed here, in this deceitfully delicious Crooked Tales collection—where the unexpected happens, the crooked are wronged, and wrongs are righted.” Crooked Tales
“Mark of the Hyena”
When civilizations collide N!xau’s click ticks tsk tsk tricks a surprising vultured culture.
Author Mark Fine provides a unique short story with his offering of “Mark of the Hyena”. Presenting the tale with two perspectives; N!xau an African San Bushman native and Werner, a smug European professor who sets out to prove his allegation that the San Bushmen were a “trivial people” because they had no written record of their history or culture. From Fine’s artful descriptions of the native language of clicks and clacks to Werner’s attitude of superiority, the author creates vibrant characters. In spite of the turmoil the tribe is experiencing N!xau and the Bushmen rescue Werner and transport him to their village in order to save him from certain death. The professor is ill prepared to survive in the unfamiliar wilderness he had foolishly attempted to explore. On the other hand N!xau, his wife K/ora, and his son !Xi are likewise unprepared for the true savagery of the egocentric European.
This is a compelling story that highlights the conflict between two diverse cultures, with the best of one meeting the worst of the other. Incredibly insightful it provides a harsh look at the attitudes of the pseudo intellectual professor when offered the kindness of the natives. Fine’s ability to see through the eyes of different cultures shines through in this well written story. The unexpected climax is rewarding and beautifully handled. Mark Fine remains one of my favourite authors.
The most surreal bun fight: beware of fiery coiffure justice!
In Anita Kovacevic’s short story “Beneath” the author once again earns the title Queen of Scream. Building this bizarre and unexpected story from a seemingly heartbreaking effort of a daughter to reach out to her thoughtless mother to a tale of unbridled horror, Kovacevic takes us on an unforgettable journey. An adept combination of horror and science run amok the characters change positions between protagonist and antagonist in the blink of an eye. Even with early hints that all is not right with daughter Isabella one cannot help but be stunned by the events that occur. On the one hand I was horrified while on the other I was cheering.
From the beginning I was disgusted by the attitude of a mother who saw her daughter as imperfect and flawed. There are even moments when I was angered by her treatment of Isabella as a small child. In the first paragraph the mother seems nostalgic, seeming to wistfully recall her daughter’s childhood. That illusion is quickly shattered and it becomes apparent that mother is a miserable woman who is never satisfied with anyone or anything. The inevitable effect on Isabella is not surprising. As with her mother, there is an illusion to be cracked. Isabella seems controlled although her mother senses something off in her behaviour. It isn’t very long before she learns just how changed her grown child is.
As Kovacevic leads her characters along the paths that change who is in charge and who is now the underdog, I found myself reading faster. Who would come out on top in this bizarre battle of wills? The author does not disappoint. Beginning with small hints of what is to come, using vivid descriptions of the emotional confrontation, Kovaceviv leads us to a pinnacle of horror that borders on unspeakable.
Stephen King might well watch out for this author, she is hot on his heels when it comes to unique horror. H.P. Lovecraft is likely applauding from the netherworld or wherever writers of nightmares go after life. As for Anita Kovacevic, keep the stories coming! I will be waiting with bated breath.