Monday, August 9, 2021

Book Review: Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons (Anthology)

Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons: Stories 
by Keith Rosson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of stories was very 'real' feeling. Intense, violent, and sad; but very truthful about how messed up the word is. If you want to feel better about your own life this is a set of short stories that is likely to help because these stories are brutal.

Story #1 - The Lesser Horsemen
I’ve always thought Death didn’t fit in with the other horsemen. I mean all of their powers result in death. This story really nails on the head this issue. As well as brings up a great ‘new’ horseman.
Although I can’t help but wonder if our buddy Pestilence should get a sequel since covid hit. (Nervous laughter?)

Story #2 - At This Table
Footnotes!! Gotta love a good (generally useless) footnote.
Sadly the story is meh.

Story #3 - Baby Jill
What is it about tooth fairy stories lately? This has to be like the fourth or fifth I’ve read this year! Granted three were in one fairy anthology; but still.
This one is odd… feels more like an opening to something bigger.

Story #4 - Their Souls Climb the Room
A. I like pork and no amount of gory slaughterhouse descriptions is likely to change that,
B. If this is attempting to compare slaughtering pigs to killing humans it misses the mark.
If the story is just about loving pigs and not eating them then I'm a poor target audience. *shrugs*

Story #5 - Hospitality
Wow, shocker of an ending. I can’t say anything about this without possibly tipping off too much. So I’ll just say wow.

Story #6 - This World or the Next
An interesting little story about the connection, or difference, between a head injury and what most would call a religious experience. Can they be one and the same?

Story #7 - Gifts
Dark, forbidding, and depressing. This story would make an amazing full length novel or movie.

Story #8 - Coyote
It feels like there are about 20 pages missing to this story. A piece where we learn about the brother a bit more; something other than his heartbreak.

Story #9 - Yes, We are Duly Concerned with Calamitous Events
Well this is very disturbing. A Lord of the Flies with office workers. Another visceral story in which I can't quite peg the reason that people are motivated to kill in awful ways. Very strange and a bit psychotic.

Story #10 - Winter, Spring, Whatever Happens After That
This is a very sad, yet realistic story of a family destroyed by alcoholism, poverty, and the failure of the ‘American Dream’. The children; a young boy and a teen girl, are stuck in the cross-fire of it all and suffer because of it. A good account of how circular life is and that the choices we make affect the children around us immensely and (all too often) negatively.

Story #11 - Forgive Me This
Another father to child (in this case a son) story that is sad all around. I can only wonder at Rosson’s relationship with his parents if he has garnered inspiration for his stories from them...

Story #12 - Dunsmuir
This may be the most hopeful story of this collection. While it has murder, drugs, and alcoholism. It also has rehab, (what passes for) justice, and a baby. Really well put together and could easily be a full fledged novel with a lot of introspective comments in it.
One critique is that snakes do not molt. They shed. These are very different activities. One involves feathers (molting), the other involves scales (shedding). It really bugs me when people get info on snakes incorrect! My poor babies are so misunderstood.

Story #13 - Homecoming
I’m not sure if Rossom means this afterlife to be a type of hell or not. But if hell is as desolate as described here then it might be worse than fires and constant physical pain. Bring on Satan and his whips instead please!

Story #14 - The Melody of the Thing
Brutally violent story about how one innocuous decision can bring everything to a grinding halt.
Also a reminder that we leave people with little proper care once they leave the hospital. Super sad; even if the ending has some hope in it. The violence here would warrant a warning; but then if you've read this many stories in the anthology, in order, you aren't likely to be surprised by this escalation in violence and gore.

Story #15 - Brad Benske and the Hand of Light
This final story is a bit odd but interesting. It is about a man with anger management issues (who is trying to 'handle' them); and a woman who is a bit flighty.

All of these stories so far are so well written and most have been very clever. I’m definitely going to keep my eye on Rosson. His early (first two) novels were only okay; but these stories suggest major talent. Highly recommend this for any horror fans or those who want some really dark insights into our lives as humans.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

The story with the horsemen sounds really interesting, but I'm not sure I'd pick up the whole anthology just because of this one!