10 Bits of My Brain by Stuart Jaffe
Jaffe is a versatile writer whose stories span genres and settings, without ever making the editor and reader in me cringe or groan. The offhand manner of narration edge stories like Henry’s Son with their very own menace, while With The Three Fingers Case, Jaffe takes the reader on a romp into a quick homicide mystery–the catch? The dragon detective thinks a human did it, and his human partner is sure a dragon’s to blame. Over the course of the stories I saw witchery, voodoo, curses, and pirates (see book cover over to the right for a more complete list!).
The collection begins at the height of the holocaust in Nazi Germany, then moves to a tattoo parlor at the edge of the universe, then to a small park bench where a homeless man idles his days away. Though the pieces differ wildly in plot and genre, I sensed a few common threads I thought could have been emphasized to unify the tales.
For example, life is something to be endured by the characters, and death is often a release. I don’t want to call these stories nihilistic, but there is a certain acceptance and even longing for the inevitable closure to the arc of life. Immortality, as it comes to at least two of the characters, is no gift, and betrayal usually comes in the form or a relative or friend.
All in all, I saw good writing, solid story structure, and a lively wit. So why only a three? Continue reading