Cover Title: You are Here: Romville Stories
Author: Joe Boland
Publication Information: Homewood, IL: Ramsfield Press, 2013.
Library of Congress Classification: PS3602.O5263
Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Romville (Ct. : Fictitious place)–Fiction
First, let me say that the author is the brother of a good friend of mine, and I promised that I would review this anthology quite a while ago.
And this is what it is: a collection of short stories. Normally I read (and review) novels; I rarely read short stories. Romville, Connecticut, is the fictitious town where the stories take place; sometimes the everyday meets The Twilight Zone there.
Most of the protagonists are down-on-their-luck types. In This Story, a crooked cop causes a fellow officer to get shot in the face. (“I watched him shamble down the hall. Dave Dooley, last of the good guys. So what if he was queer?”) The cop is later murdered, which leads his crooked partner to solve the case. Alf, the protagonist in Well She Killed Me, takes as his lover one of his best friends’ spouses. He claims to have always loved her, but she does not return the feeling. Her husband is terminally ill, and she has children. Where the World Goes When the World Goes Away (You are Here) is a take on the Oedipus myth. Al’s woman has been in chemotherapy but dies of cancer. He sees “King Death” driving down the street on occasion with someone who died two years before. Al needs to talk to him …
Ah, teenage angst—again. Charlie looks back on his life at the age of seventeen in Division Street (Boxboy in Zion). Another teenager love story is Roaring Girl. This teenager’s girl Friday needs his help when she finds out she’s pregnant—and being Catholics, abortions are a definite no-no.
My Life Up Until Now is sad but interesting. This is the longest story in the anthology. Dominic, a young man, recollects his childhood of mistreatment, living in the caretaker’s cottage on an estate. His father abandoned Dominic when he was a boy. His mother calls him Dummy and the estate owner doesn’t like him. Secrets are slowly uncovered–with consequences.
Dreamy is the most disturbing. We are introduced to a psychopath who falls in love with a teenager whose mother is dying and she has a younger brother. The protagonist is already married, of course. This is one character that elicits no sympathy.
The stories are very well-written, and I liked some of the characters, but my taste in fiction is not short stories and (right now) mysteries. Nonetheless, there is a mixture of stories here on the human condition–with some supernatural elements.