Saturday, November 21, 2009

Customer Reviews, Part 2

In the spirit of my post from earlier this week, as well as the similarly-themed Publetariat Indie Call to Action, here are two more e-book reviews that will be cross-posted on Feedbooks and anywhere else I can find them available for download.

Herman Marmaduke by Small Stories

Small Stories is a powerhouse, a true pioneer when it comes to e-books and new media - experimenting with Microfiction, Twitter Novels, Wave Fiction, and any number of other ways to merge writing with technology that I probably haven’t even heard about yet.

Herman Marmaduke
is my personal favorite of his stories so far. Hovering somewhere in the realm between short story and novella, it is a simple yet resonant story about two men - one who cannot remember, and another who wishes he could forget. The title character is a past-his-prime celebrity adventurer type (think Jacques Cousteau or the Crocodile Hunter) who’s long since faded into obscurity and is haunted by a painful past.

What I found most satisfying about the story is the way it plays with identity; how I some ways our sense of identity can be so illusory and mercurial, and in other ways unyielding and inescapable. In the end, it’s about wish-fulfillment, about a man who wants to become someone else – anyone else, it doesn’t matter who, just as long as it isn’t him.

DEAD(ish) by Naomi Kramer

Dead(ish) was the one of the first e-books I read on Feedbooks, and it’s still one of my favorites. The story centers around a young woman who is murdered by her boyfriend and ends up haunting him to take revenge in insanely inventive, twisted ways. It’s a quick read, written in a playful, conversational style that shifts between several characters’ first-person points-of-view.

What makes it special is the way that it crackles with exuberant creative energy from start to finish, never dragging or dwelling on the kind of inconsequential minutiae that tends to trip up less-assured, more pretentious authors (myself most emphatically included). Part mystery, part ghost story, part revenge fantasy, Naomi’s work stampedes over genre conventions and thumbs her nose at outdated notions of literary propriety. She doesn’t care if it’s a fucking sentence fragment or not, she’s not worried if her potty-mouth offends you, she’s just telling the story she wants to tell, the way she wants to tell it.

Both these e-books are simple, personal stories written with a stripped-down, unpretentious grace. They are examples of the best that independent fiction has to offer, and I fail to see how either one would benefit from edited, workshopped, or focus-grouped to death.

Herman Marmaduke cover by Small Stories.  DEAD(ish) cover by PJ Lyons.  

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