First off, this was my favorite of the day. Second, buy this book. I was a fan of Jernigan’s after No Return. Now, he’s got my full adoration. On to the review.
Well, once again I’m blown away by Jernigan’s writing. His prose seduced my mind and made my heart ache. Perhaps it was the shortness of the stories, but I connected with this book way more than No Return. It tossed me into a serious reverie about life. I’ll try to explain that in the next paragraph, but first: Fucking crazy shit again! Jernigan’s imagination just staggers me. I didn’t have as big of a problem wrapping my mind around this one — except for maybe Pairs, which was wonderfully depressing, but set in a world that my mind said nope. Oh well, I still enjoyed it immensely and it stuck with me for quite a bit after I finished the book. My favorites though were The War is Over and Everyone Wins and then All My Ghosts, which was my top favorite. Here’s a little excerpt from All my Ghosts that resonated with me and the words are painfully beautiful:
“I came to love and resent him as any son would. I suppose he felt something similar for me, but we never spoke of it — never spoke of much, really, nor possessed the words if we’d wanted to.”
Be prepared. I’m amount to ramble here a bit.
There is a solidarity to Jernigan's characters; as if the main character in each story is alone, awaiting an unavoidable betrayal. I think some would view it as pessimistic. I view it as realistic. At some point in your life, you will be betrayed; not just by friends and family, but by life itself. An optimist might look around and shake their head, stating that nothing in life will betray them. And when it finally happens, the optimist probably won’t see it for what it is. If by chance they do, they’ll smile broader, thinking it won’t happen again. A pessimist looks around and says all will betray them. When that one incident happens, they wait eagerly for the next, knowing without a doubt betrayal will meet them again. A realist looks around and smiles knowingly. They will love life unhindered, see every ounce of good. But, they know with every fiber of good there is a fray of evil. When that one incident betrays them, it will hurt, because they loved the good as clearly as they saw the evil. I’m a realist. I see in some of these characters (not all) that same outlook. Awaiting the inevitable. Living life. Alone. Loved. Happy. Sad. I’ve admittedly read this paragraph many times over, but have no other way to describe how I feel. Right or wrong, it is the impression I am left with. And I love it. I sit here writing this in a little gloomy state of reflection, but the stories also moved me in ways I can’t explain. Perhaps I read too far into them, but I wanted to. So I did. Others will probably walk away with an entirely dissimilar view. I think the stories will resonate differently with each person who reads them based on what they've experienced in life, which in my opinion is the mark of a true master of story telling.
I have nothing else to say except it was a brilliant selection of stories that impacted me deeply. I think I’ll end my ramblings there and sit with my thoughts for a bit.