By Todd Grimson
Schaffner Press, Inc., $24.95, 190 pages, 3 stars
Readers take note: irony flows liberally in Stabs at Happiness, starting with the title. Author Todd Grimson’s 13 short stories are loaded with the melancholy, the perverse, the embittered, the lost. Happiness is not how readers will describe the emotions wrought from Grimson’s words.
That’s not to say the writing isn’t compelling. Though “Brighter and Brighter” has a raw dark plot, the connection between the characters is sweet. Donnie Ray is a bad man who’s just done a number of really bad things. But his conscious is pricked by young Axl.
Other stories, such as “Batista’s Lieutenant,” flows as stream of conscious thoughts, ping-ponging from scene to scene. It is hard to follow, but again, the characters pull you along to story’s end.
“I am a bad person. I lie. I cheat. I steal. I am much worse than you can ever know.”
Many of the tales in Stabs at Happiness are not for the faint of heart – or the prude. “Hunt’s Rescue,” for example, is badly twisted, though the description of the unnamed South American jungle is vivid.
Any thirst for happiness the reader might bring to Stabs, will mostly remain unslaked in the traditional way, but Grimson delivers a slate of stories about the human condition that is not often unveiled.
Reviewed by Kelley Duron