By Justin Bog
Green Darner Press, $14.95, 226 pages
Sandcastle and Other Stories is a collection of short stories for the emotional voyeur. This collection contains a thread to tie one story to another, subtly, but enough to bring the reader along and have an immediate desire to dive right in to the next story. Justin Bog tells ten stories— stories of love, loss, fear, and champion. Each narrator brings something new to the table that not only allows the reader to immediately engage and mentally explore the setting, but reveals a certain element of the author as well. Bog writes in his introduction that he is a twin, and twins are featured in more than one of his stories. By bringing himself to the table, the reader is able to feel comfortable becoming more engaged in the story, falling in to the pages and getting lost in the emotion.
Part of what makes these stories so engaging is Bog’s willingness to be entirely honest with his writing and not shy away from the darker parts of the human psyche. We are naturally curious about others but are often hesitant to openly admit that we enjoy a good rumor or that we have stopped reading our book to listen to the next table over’s conversation. Bog brings these feelings, internal and external, to the forefront, and uses them as the crux of his story. Each story starts with elements of the familiar— the birth of a child, reading a book, tending a garden, until a darker, unexplored feeling is exposed. These hidden feelings become visible and pave the way for psychology to help explain why we act the way we do.