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The Boatman's Getting Restless / A Modern Epic (Cracked Eye Double Feature) - Michael LaRocca

I was provided with a copy of this short story duo by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


I'm relatively new to short stories but the more I read them, the more I am in awe of the skill involved in telling a good story in a few words. Those words have to be well chosen so none are wasted in the small window of opportunity the author has to tell their tale. I wasn't disappointed in these stories.


In the first story, The Boatman's Getting Restless, the narrator is buried alive, at his request, to see if he can visit the 'afterlive' and hopefull return to tell the tale. I read this tale with a sense of foreboding, that things wouldn't turn out as the narrator was hoping. The author soon draws you into the story and I found myself eager to find out what would happen and if the narrator would survive any visit he may have to the 'other side'.


The second short story also focusses on death, this time however from a different angle. The protagonist, Nathaniel Hawthorne Brown, spends his life dreaming of Death, trying to avoid Death's attempts to take him. So much so that he as now become a virtual recluse, speaking to no one and resorting to having his groceries left on his step so he doesn't have to venture outside. However when he discovers an injured intruder in his home and chooses to help him things become unravelled.


This is a much longer story than the first, and the sense of Nathaniel's fear and evasion of death is built up in flashbacks and nightmares. He has faced death during WWII and in his personal life and for me this was a much more moving tale than the first.


All in all, a great pair of short stories that left me thinking for some time after.