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The Gate: 13 Dark & Odd Tales Paperback – August 12, 2011
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"The Gatekeeper": a very mystical story about finding one's way, even involuntarily. It is linked with Fate, being the chosen one, and containing, in every sense of the word, all worlds inside yourself, yet being trapped, secluded in one cramped space in the process. In that light, it can be read as a metaphor of what it's like to be a writer, and seems a very logical choice as the first story of the collection.
"Sullivan Street" is about childhood's end and the corruption of the adults' world, filled with lies and deceit. Very suspenseful and intriguing, with one foot in reality and the other in something different, as in Duperre's novel Silas.
"The container of sorrows" (Mercedes M. Yardley): a short metaphorical tale on ungratefulness.
"Sins of our fathers" contains themes such as becoming oneself, finding a second chance or a meaning in life, metaphorically kill the father to gain self-respect...
"Blight" (Daniel Pyle): Hallucinations / visions tricking people into doing terrible things because of a curse dating from the 18th century. Linked with Historical guilt.
"Feeding the passion" offers a twisted, perverted vision of the special relationship between fan and artist, each one "feeding" on the other...
"Dispatch #337" would deserve its place in The Rift series, though the narration is different. Frightening like Dracula because it's "live" (not through letters here: a woman recorded a vocal message, that's what the reader has in his hands).
"Exhibit A" (David McAfee) is another recorded message, but here the narrator is the killer, and he is staging his own show. Metafictional mise en abyme. Great style, scary.
"The Emancipation of Po Po": High Noon meets Ghostbusters. Far-fetched yet funny and possible to understand, even if everything feels outlandish.
"I Spy": funny, humbling short tale that reminded me of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End.
"Kitty in the cellar" (David Dalglish) is about revenge and the power of imagination, of storytelling: children telling each other and themselves stories.
"Perfect blue buildings" deals with sacrifice and choice between the people you love.
"Empty spaces": as in "Kitty in the corner", the power of imagination can trigger a chain of reactions...
When I reached "Dispatch #337", I felt like there was one word which could define or unite all these short stories: TRANSMISSION. "Dispatch #337" is a story (transmission n°1) in which a woman recorded a radio message (transmission n°2) during a chaos caused by a virus turning everyone into zombies (transmission n°3) and she wished to leave a reminder of herself and the world after her death (transmission n°4). All the other stories are transmissions containing transmissions, and now it's up to you to receive them. As far as I'm concerned, I'm off to reading The Gate Vol. 2!
It can be hard to develop a complete plot or thought in short stories, but I found these to be wonderful and fun examples of the "dark & odd". This book is very well named.
BTW, I LOVED the illustrations in the book. Toward the end of the book I began to imagine what the story would be about based on the illustration proceeding it.
- The Gatekeeper: 2 stars. One of the weaker stories in the collection. Seemed more like an outline than a complete story, like a beginning more than a complete thought.
- Sullivan Street: 4 stars. Good story in a very strange way. Hearkens back to many other similar stories...I won't say which ones here lest I give away the plot.
- The Container of Sorrows: 5 stars. I love stories where I am allowed to fill in the blanks, and this one has all the elements of just a really good read.
- Sins of Our Fathers: 4 stars. Great story about redemption and overcoming the mistakes of the past.
- Blight: 4 stars. Great horror. Again, the story let me do the thinking...
- Feeding the Passion: 3 stars. Very "Twilight Zone." Good horror.
- Dispatch #337: 4 stars. Good zombie/apocalyptic story. Short and terrifying.
- Exhibit A: 4 stars. Just what does a novice serial killer think about? Now I know.
- The Emancipation of Po: 4 stars. I hope this develops into something greater. Just a little taste of something that could be epic.
- I Spy: 3 stars. Funny story. 'Nuff said.
- Kitty in the Cellar: 5 stars. Great story. I wish I had thought of it!
- Perfect Blue Buildings: 3 stars. Very strange story. I didn't get a lot from it...maybe some others will...
- Empty spaces: 5 stars. Absolutely great story. I was in suspense all the way to the end. Thanks!