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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: A Last Resort for Desperate People

A Last Resort For Desperate People, by Jeremy Griffin.
Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2011.
Review by Heath Wilcock. Fiction.

Jeremy Griffin's debut collection A Last Resort For Desperate People surprised and frustrated me. Let me explain. Surprised me in the sense that this was a collection with such wildly inventive stories that I was unable to pull away and complete any of the regular responsibilities of my daily life. And it frustrated me because I like to finish every short story with a ten-minute block of time to think about what I have just read (e.g., going back over passages, ponder the macro of the story). However I found myself at the end of every story already in pursuit of the next. I don’t normally do this. When I was finished with the collection, I chunked out a good block of time and asked myself why I read each story as if I were gobbling a dinner, not paying any attention to my wife's demands to "slow down." The answer is this: It's too damn good to slow down.

Jeremy Griffin’s characters in each of his stories are filled with hope in a world that is a little off. Two young boys find out about a swinger’s club in their quiet neighborhood, a son has a frightening case of telekinesis, and a recently deceased father owns a shed that continues to hide a secret from the family that could ruin his credibility. With gorgeous prose, Jeremy Griffin’s stories succeed in capturing an originality that is becoming increasingly more difficult in today’s constant push to find the “new” and “fresh.”

I haven’t even mentioned his novella “The Cosmic Brethren.” Yes, it’s a short story collection and a novella. If I were to do a sales pitch. It would go something like this:

Have you ever wanted to read a short story that is longer, but not novel length? Well you’re in luck because Jeremy Griffin is giving out his short story collection A Last Resort For Desperate People with the added bonus of a novella. Jeremy Griffin knows that once you finish the last short story from his collection, you will feel sad—sad because it’s over. And that’s why Jeremy Griffin walks back out on stage for his final encore with a novella entitled “The Cosmic Brethren.”
    It’s a story about an occult.
    Are you salivating? I bet, and that’s why we’re also going to throw in this tiny lab dropper to help suck up that excess saliva. For FREE!

Jeremy Griffin is a very gifted writer who has created a memorable collection that is not only entertaining but also emotionally engaging. Find this collection and read it. Find more copies and hand them out to friends and family. Group salivating encouraged.

Jeremy Griffin is originally from Louisiana. He is an instructor of composition at the Virginia Military Institute. His stories have appeared in several literary publications, including the Greensboro Review, Blackbird, and Hayden’s Ferry Review #45. He has also been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart Prize.

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