Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: "The Peripatetic Coffin" by Ethan Rutherford

While I am never one to decry of a lessening of quality in today’s literature (because there isn’t), there is a trend in short stories that I tend to not like very much, and that is shown, in spades, in Ethan Rutherford’s debut short story collection The Peripatetic Coffin.  While it can easily be chocked up to taste, because 10 times out of 10, I would rather read a short story by Joe Hill or Scott Snyder than I ever would a collection published by Nathan Englander, but there are collections of stories, and the almost always are collections of stories, that are lame and self-indulgent to the point where a writer can make so many giant, avoidable mistakes simply because they fall in love with themselves and there fancy prose styling. They seem to have long, horribly pretentious titles like “Nothing Exists Except You and I” (just an example), and always misuse certain techniques, like the supernatural elements or melodrama to their own gain. Rutherford’s collection is not as bad as some, but it is in the same ballpark and came to represent a trend I don’t care for. The rule I understood while reading this book is: if a story has a setting on the high seas, it is not going to be good. Whether it is a group of solders on a doomed submarine, or another group of men seeking out an oddly named monstrous beast, you can bet the story is going to be derivative. The only real story that I enjoyed in this book was the second one, titles “Summer Boys” it starts out simple, with two boys spending a summer together with modern conveniences such as video games and movie rentals, but once they discover a secret stash of porn and watch it to satiate their curiosity, it becomes something more monumentous in the boys’ lives. It is the bright star in an otherwise dim collection.

Rating: 3/5

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