A Tale of Two Cities
The Complete Short Stories
Fahrenheit 451
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Navigators of Dune
End of Watch
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
King Henry VI, Part 3
King Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 1
King Henry IV, Part Two
King Henry IV, Part 1
Richard II
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Rosie Effect
On the Nature of Things
So Anyway


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Drive In

The Drive In
Douglas Gardham
December 9, 2014
ISBN - 10: 1491748141
ISBN - 13: 9781491748145
From the Publisher
Have you ever been intrigued by what mysteries lie behind the doors and windows of the places you pass by on your drive into work everyday? The Drive In takes you on Tom Johnson‘s commute. Unlike Tom, you’ll get to peek behind some of those closed doors. Remember going to the “Drive-In” theatre? Each story reveals what goes on like watching the “dusk ‘til dawn” features through your car’s windshield. Meet the people at the places Tom only passes by each day. Then discover how his drive in ends like no other.

Smell The Book Review
9 out of 10
I had the pleasure of meeting Douglas Gardham in 2014 when he met with the members of the Ottawa Book Club to discuss his first published book: The Actor. Regardless of anyone's opinion of his work (the majority enjoyed his first book) his clear passion for writing and books in general came through as he spoke to the group. I personally encouraged him to write more as I was anxious to read more from him so was pleased to see this collection of short stories.
"What would he do if he knew he
couldn't fail"   Tom Johnson p 20.
Probably one of my favorite lines from a book in the last several years, this line captures the feelings of our protagonist nicely. The driver, Tom Johnson, links the 6 short stories. Tom works for an uninspired and status-quo driven company that does not like to do things differently. Inspired perhaps by what he could and could not see behind the lives of the people and places he passes on his drive in to work one morning, Tom's experiences on the eponymous "Drive in" to work provide the framing structure for the book's stories with each major site or encounter leading in to the next short story. 
Cleverly constructed, sometimes sentimental, sometimes disturbing, always entertaining, I enjoy the short-story genre and Douglas Gardham's work rings very "Stephen-King-esque" in his range of subjects and his ability to make me squirm while still causing me to reflect on my own choices as compared to those of his characters. 
But not just used to connect the stories, Tom himself has his own experiences on the way in to work which make him question his decisions in life and his future with the most boring company imaginable.
The 6 stories (no spoilers) are summed up as follows: 
  • A bus passenger sits next to an unexpected person on the way to her job..
  • A man meets a woman with whom he could potentially start a new life, but his old life has not concluded yet.
  • A businessman considers faking his own death, but can he go through with his plan?
  • Terror and self sacrifice for a window-washer cum song-writer 40 stories above the street when a job goes as bad as it can go in "Devon Tower".
  • A boy and his Uncle share a huge secret involving a plane. Can you keep a secret?
  • A young teen falls in love/lust with a girl in a photograph and races to his reward.

My personal favorite is in Devon Tower, with the cringe-worthy description of a window-washer's plight on his scaffold. I always have similar thoughts when I see these maniacs out on a thin plywood platform outside of a skyscraper and am pleased to see someone put my questioning of these peoples vocation to paper.

A highly recommended read. The only down side I can see to this work, is that there were not more of these short stories as I'd like to see another longer work from this author.

9 out of 10.




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