Tess Gallagher, "King Death"

An old homeless guy starts hanging out in the neighborhood.

(from The Man from Kinvara)

Didn’t enjoy this one. Not horrible, just limp. It was simplistic in its handling of of poverty and addiction, like an after-school special. And its sentences often ran one phrase too long; nothing worse than a story that wastes your time. I’m a reader, not an inpatient. I can do something else. I did muddle through to see if it ended in precisely the maudlin non-crescendo I expected. I was close.
To be fair, I probably wasn’t going to be fair. There were a lot of things stacked up against this collection, which has been sitting on my bedroom floor since I snagged it from work a few months ago. 1) Look at that oil-painted cover. This thing looks like the boringest of all boring litmags — the kind even I wouldn’t buy. 2) “Selected Stories” is almost always a hint that what lies within isn’t fun. At best it’ll be respected. 3) The back cover is full of blurbs written in black on charcoal. 4) That might actually be a good thing. This way I can’t read whatever uninteresting thing Haruki Murikami has to say. Going in, the lone upside was the title. “King Death” coulda been so metal.

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