Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns Paperback – March 23, 2016
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In and of itself, as a writer, 'produce a compelling crime short without any guns' is a brilliant challenge. How do you threaten somebody without a gun? How do you kill them? Yes, all sorts of different ways and methods come to mind but none are quite as easy, quite as, well, lazy yet effective, as just handling it with a gun. To ask a collection of crime writers like this to forgo the go-to problem solver in their fiction is a beautiful thing.
What a collection of writers, too. Joyce Carol Oates. Hillary Davidson. Rob Hart. Joe Lansdale. The book is stuffed full of genre heavy hitters, the unparalleled collection of talent evident on every page. Though they donated their stories, every contributor still threw their heart and soul into what they wrote.
There's murders by train. Murders by rage and baseball bats and incinerators. A death by a cash register, a death by mystery, multiple bludgeonings by various objects. These stories--my god, these stories. Some are merely pretty damn good. Some will make you laugh while others will leave you wiping tears away as you look around to make sure nobody saw you crying. Each one will make you want to track down that author and see what else they'v worked their magic on.
Having read more from quite a few of these writers myself, do that. Find their books. What an amazing and talented bunch of people, you won't be disappointed.
The proceeds from the sale of Unloaded will go to States United to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization dedicated not to taking away your guns, you silly people, but to promoting & developing sane, reasonable methods of decreasing gun violence. Can you say that we shouldn't keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers? Will you stamp your feet and yell that we shouldn't improve gun safety courses, that there should not be better education surrounding firearms?
I personally find this endeavor admirable. As somebody who grew up during Columbine, during so many other school shootings, I resent every minute we practiced active shooter drills, every classroom that had a 'plan' for the day it was our turn to face the fear and carnage of an armed person out to kill as many as possible. I never should have experienced night terrors that left me sprinting blindly down the halls of our home or found myself curled up behind my bed, hoping the shooter in my dream didn't find me.
Nobody's out to take your guns. We just want to be safe from this uniquely American horror show. I want to be in a mall when a balloon pops and not start to run for the door. I don't want to know that my child's school has an alert system and locking doors, for when it's their turn. I don't want my son to have the same dreams, the same fears I had to live with. That I still have to live with.
Let's be sane, let's be reasonable, and let's all step up to make the world better for everyone. And thank you, every writer involved in Unloaded, for challenging yourself, for donating your words, to such an effort. All these stories show it can be done, maybe make us wonder if it should be done. They book is a collection of two dozen people standing together and showing their commitment to making our world a little better. So thank you.
“Unloaded” (volume 1) opens with the best wheelchair justice in a down-home classic by Joe R. Lansdale. The tales that follow are scary, thought provoking, questioning, and downright creepy. If you are not afraid of trains, baseball bats, tattoos, undertakers, clowns, or hammers, you will be by the time you are finished reading.
The advantage of an anthology such as “Unloaded” is that readers can finish an entire scary story in one sitting, while waiting for an appointment or a plane, or when one just needs a quick break from the stress of the day. Be advised however, these are not really those cute little “feel-good” stories; they compelling and scary. Once you start one, you will not be able to stop until you are finished. It is a good thing they are short.
I received a copy of “Unloaded” (volume 1) from Down and Out Books and NetGalley. I can hardly wait for the next installment in July.