Alex Issa's thought-provoking stories are difficult to classify. From post-apocalyptic fables tackling restraint in the absence of law, to tales of hit-man morality, his short fiction has challenged listeners and delighted critics with its minimalist sensibilities and ever-present subtext. Here, six almost surreal short stories lead the listener through disturbing and somehow beautiful locations in the mind.
1. Of Princesses and Freaks: Two Short Tales
Locked in the tower, Bella laments her fate, the decisions she made about the liquidation of her mother's estate, and the ambitions that have left her helpless on unforgiving stone with rodents and roaches her only companions.
Big Top Slick
A father explains to his son why running away to the circus isn't the best option in this surrealistic and vaguely philosophical exploration of society, shunning, and human nature.
2. Swings Don't Grow Lonely: A Tale of Endings
Richard, an old man awaiting the end, and Anne, a young girl with burdens no girl should bear, sit on the swings and circle around the only topic of import. In this moving and bleak story of both untimely and timely ends, Alex Issa draws emotion effortlessly and powerfully with the very picture of bittersweet truth.
3. Dancing with Bounties
The Blank Twins, violent bounty hunters, hired usually for their particular ability to forget the "Alive" part of "Wanted: Dead or Alive", lie in wait for a serial killer with 19 brutal rapes and murders to his name. Dark, violent, and strangely comic, the unforgettable and more than a little disturbing world of Alex Issa is sure to please. This thrilling short story is one of many in the Devil Twins series.
4. Dry County (Devil Twins 2)
Michael and Barton Blink are back, and this time, their bounty takes them to, of all places, a town without a drop of alcohol for sale. The Devil Twins are here for a bounty that should be easy pickings, if they could just find a way to get a drink first.
5. Choice of Sanity: A Post-Apocalyptic Fable
In this dark but deeply satisfying story, Alex Issa explores the rights and obligations of men and women in world which has lost all rules. Can a woman refuse to give her body for the repopulation of the race? Is the extinction of mankind justification for rape? Tom, Mischa, and Ed may be the last three people on Earth, and for them these questions aren't hypothetical but real, urgent, and immediate. From its opening sentence to its shocking conclusion, the story unfolds with the stark beauty that only Alex Issa can produce.
This collection of stories by Alex Issa is loosely themed around people who come face-to-face with their bitter ends. The writing is vivid and pulpy, which suits the edgy subject matter, and the plots are twisty and well-executed. The stories provide a glimpse into diverse lives: a princess (a la Cinderella) held in a castle against her will; a pair of hard-drinking bounty hunters in search of their quarries; the last three human survivors following the apocalypse.
The narration is superb. Narrator John Feather is a masterful storyteller. His nuanced voice acting really brings the stories to life and adds new a dimension of enjoyment to the material.