Little Things

By John R. Little
Bad Moon Books
ISBN: 978-0-9844601-6-8
2010; $20.00

John Little is a little bit of an anomaly in the fiction world. He started getting published in the early 1980’s in prestigious publications such as Cavalier, Weird Tales and Twilight Zone magazine. He built up a decent head of steam and then seemed to disappear. Seems he retired from writing and got on with a regular teaching job. Flash forward a decade or so and John’s come out of his self imposed exile. That’s where I came in…

Most of you Dark Discoveries regulars with recognize the name John R. Little as I’ve published no less than 4 of his stories (2 in the magazine, and one each in a chapbook and the newsletter respectively – 3 of which appear in this new collection from Bad Moon). I’m not the first one to publish something from John in his comeback (Kealan Patrick Burke lays claim to that one), but John came along pretty early in the life of DD. It’s nice to see him not only getting back into the saddle with writing, and getting a lot of new things published, but also receiving accolades and awards as well. And finally, a much overdue story collection to boot.

The aptly titled Little Things, kicks off with fittingly enough John’s first published short story, “Volunteers Needed”. Stephen King’s influence can definitely be felt on this one, but John establishes his own voice and style in this ironic tale. The collection is bookended by the excellent novella, “Placeholders” (originally published as a stand-alone chapbook by Necessary Evil Press that sold out in like a day), which is easily one of John’s best. This complex tale centers around a man who finds himself waking up in other people’s bodies right before they die.

In between these two stories are a number of standout tales. “Tommy’s Christmas” (a twisted little take on the holidays) and “Growing Up” (a story which figures into a theme John continues to mine in his work – aging and trying to hold onto one’s youth) are next. Followed by “Those Little Cameras” (taking it too far with reality shows); “Welcome to Inferno” (Hell as a theme park); and “A Slow Haunting” (a creepy dead brother story that John breathes new life into). Other strong stories are: “Doing Daddy”, “Climbing Mount Turnpike”, “My Little Jillian”, “Following Marla” and “Sammy”.

John’s main themes – the ones that show up repeatedly – are love and loss. Loss in the form of one’s life, youth, freedom, loved one, etc. – and the love that drives us, motivates. His characters are well-developed and you come to care about them. We can feel the depth of their loss as they are haunted by the specters of their lives – both real and imagined. That’s the strength of a good writer – to pull you into the story and make you care about it and the people populating it.

So go check out this collection of “Little” stories and I imagine you’ll be seeing John in much “Bigger” things not long from now.

– Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on September 19, 2010.

2 Responses to “Little Things”

  1. Fantastic review. Looking forward to reading this!

  2. Terrific review – beautiful book!

    LITTLE THINGS has some old favourites, and some new discoveries – for all the fans to enjoy! A must for your reading list; be sure to get your order in today.

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