Review – The Black Whole – Jacqueline M. Jones (editor)

the black wholeSynopsis
When tasting the broad range of flavours Jackie Jones has assembled got you in The Black Whole, remember that your tastes tomorrow will be much different than today’s. More than that, though, what you read here will alter you just a tad, so that tomorrow you might re-read with a totally different eye, with totally different taste buds.  Think of Secrets by Greg Rose and Tom Courtney’s Unless and bookends between which Jackie has placed rich reading experiences. After reading Shay Wells’ Mars Or Die, you will never think of EVA in quite the same way. Jackie’s own yarns (there are 3 of them) are guaranteed to twist your head around.  You’ll carry The Black Whole with you. You’ll return to read some of the stories a second time, wondering whether you “got it” right in the first read.

I would like to send out my thanks to Curt and Jackie from Down In The Country Press for giving me the opportunity to read and express my thoughts of The Black Whole.

When reading a short story collection, the reader never really knows what they are getting into. With shorts rather than novels, the reader can esperience an infinity of topics, emotions and worlds. Taking a quick glance at The Black Whole leaves a reader with a feeling of wonder, this is a gorgeously designed book with a front cover that the above picture cannot do justice to. I admit that I found myself contemplating the image on the front many times throughout my reading, it was almost hypnotic. But what drew me to this collection initially was this small blurb on the front cover:

A collection of new thoughts in short-story form by new writers to appease for a moment your mind’s quest for an out-of-common experience.

That is exactly what I look for in a collection of short stories. I want stories that are original and thought-provoking. And I got just that with The Black Whole.

Contained within The Black Whole you will find twenty-five short-stories, including some poetry as well. These stories encompass a world of subjects and none are similar, however Jackie Jones has managed to compile and present them in a way that makes each story flow unto one another in a very pleasing way. Although these stories could be read in any order, the journey I chose was straight through to the end, and that seemed to add power to each individual with The Black Whole.

There are far too many stories for me to highlight here in a review, although all deserve recognition. Here are my thoughts on the stories which really stood out to me.

The Angel And The Vampire  by W.D. Wilcox is a beautifully written and chilling story of a writer who is dying, searching for the perfect ending and perhaps going crazy along the way. “A whip of lightning cracked and scarred the skin of the night. The townspeople were frightened, but took it as an omen of the woman’s guilt.” Upon finishing this story I really had to take a minute and consider my own life and just what makes it my own. Are we the masters of our own destiny? And if not who is?

Jackie Jones’ The Better Half is best read late at night, curled under the covers of your bed, with only a flickering candle to light the pages. But keep your eyes open and watch the person sleeping soundly beside you, or maybe you better not. “When I had finished screaming, I checked her out. Part of my mind told me to call 911. Part was ringing out old nursery rhymes…” This story works perfectly as a scary tale but is also very effective in providing a thoughtful contemplation about ‘who’ we are, and whether the ‘who’ we are today is the same ‘who’ we were yesterday.

Jeremy Zoss has found an great way to breathe life into the zombie genre in the story The Maze. At just two pages long Zoss has given us a story that not only perfectly captured the horror and anxiety of facing the undead, but also given us a look at the depths to which out society can fall when the power is in the hands of so few. “It has to be the right way. After torturous minutes, John emerged from the clouded passage into a larger room.”

I’ve often wondered when and how the earth will strike back as humans and punish us for our parasitic ways. We have taken for granted and nearly destroyed what keeps us alive. Bruce Bretthauer examines a similar topic in the story Spiked! Morphed into a coming of age tale, with mystery and fantasy this story is a wonderful look at how people can be caretakers of our planet. “Days flashed through my memory as I sank my hand deeper into the log, the warmth of sunlight, wind, rain, night and day, the endless repetitive cycle of life. I felt the twinges of the disease that began to kill it.”

The Quiet Of The Green is another eco-friendly story of wonder. What would happen if mother nature decided the way to regain health and respect was to infiltrate the very race that threatens her? “Being the foundation upon which is to be built the travels of a young girl into the depths of a tribe’s beginning.” The initial build up of this story makes a person feel uncomfortable as you wonder just what is going on, there is weirdness afoot and surely something bad must happen soon. However Curt Akin takes these malicious feeling intentions and weaves a beautiful story of awakening and renewal. But one cannot help but wonder what our future would hold if this fiction were to play out in real life. Are these independent motives or merely puppet strings that have been ingrained within us.

The Black Whole is the best kind of short-story collection. The type that uses so few words, but provokes within the reader numerous questions that are at once thought-provoking, but in the end unanswerable. Seeking the answers to these mysteries can only lead us into our own Black Whole.

About The Author
Jacqueline M. Jones (aka Jackie) was born with a silver story in her mouth – oops scratch that – stories to tell; and it’s a good thing. for at age 12, she was presented with a baby brother, a baby brother to raise. Fortunately, baby brother fit well into the role of lover-of-fantasies, good listener, and good friend. Jackie works daily with words, as an editor. She was architect of the best selling The Best Of Novel Advice by Jeanne Marie Childe. Jackie has three children, seven grandchildren, a retired racing greyhound and a long-haired Chihuahua, who rules. She shares her life with her soul mate of 16 years.

Published by Down In The Country Press

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


bkclubcare said...

OOOoo! I like the term out-of-common experience.

Curt said...

That phrase was originally "out-of-box," from the first cover layout. It lived that way for about 2 months. It made me uncomfortable. It was too cliche-y.

"common" was substituted seconds before the cover went to the printer.

Thanks for the comment. Although I've been doing it professionally since 1972, book design is hell!!

Iliana said...

Unfortunately I don't read very many short story collections but I'll have to keep this one on my radar. The stories sound a bit more unusual and I like that. I think sometimes short stories are better suited for experimental fiction.

naida said...

great review, this sounds very good. I like short stories.