2014 – December 29 – Lots of Ways to Die

One way to go.

One way to go.

It’s the 29th day, and we’re reading “Lots of Ways to Die” by Vanessa Wiebler Paris.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “Please don’t go yet.”[/cryout-pullquote]

There are lots of ways to die.

Slim Jim.

Slim Jim.

Slim Jim is remarkable for its ability to make us care deeply for a character who should be pathetic in our eyes, a victim by choice, a man who lets others walk all over him. But Jim is not pathetic. This author does a fine job of getting us into his mindset, and it’s no longer such a stretch to see ourselves in his situation. To empathize, as they say. Sure, his condition is an exaggeration of our own insecurities, but we have all made stupid decisions to sate our craving for attention or love or whatever the coin of the realm was at the moment. The other brilliant aspect of this series is that it manages to coax us into staring again and again at horrors despite our instinct to look away. Absurdity, humor, compelling secondary characters, all work to keep us invested in the tale as it unfolds layer by layer like a blood-soaked wrapping. Last month we saw the wound itself, but we also witnessed a small rebellion in Jim’s reaction. Enough to give us a sliver of hope.

Well, December is here. There is no more wrapping to be unwound, no more laughter to cut the tension. Instead, we are presented with a razor sharp dissection of our human condition as revealed through this journey we have shared with Slim Jim. It’s painful at times, wry at others, but always incisive, inevitable. True. In Western fiction we would have a release here at the end of this downward spiral. Something would happen, a cavalry would appear, or maybe Jim would simply see the light. But this is not the usual stuff, and it is magnificent.


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About Stephen

I live in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania with fellow writer, Susan Urbanek Linville, and a herd of reformed feral cats.

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