Facing Hard Facts about Ourselves | Review of “Earthbound” by Kenneth Radu (2012) DC Books

We are all faced with situations in our life that shatters and upsets our core beliefs. An event or a circumstance occurs and we are stunned to our inner psyches trying to figure out how to deal with it. It is a common occurrence in the human condition and Kenneth Radu writes about those situations in his collection of short stories called Earthbound.

The Ice Storm – Page 1

Driving home from the hospital Julie kept repeating to herself that all kinds of families populated the world and not one of them needed to apologize. She would soon join the ranks of divorced mothers with three children. The legal separation itself last year had been relatively painless, although she did drop some of her wedding pictures into the garbage disposal by the sink, and had asked Roger not to call for at least a month before beginning the weekend visits to the children. Mutual friends, divorced or not, had consoled at first, then drifted away. Her parents had squinted chagrin and tried to sympathize. they both liked Roger. As they had been married for half a century, Julie doubted if her mother and father could possibly understand they dynamics and stress of modern relationships. they seldom went to the movies, preferring restaurants, lawn bowling with their septuagenarian friends, and backgammon.

These are stories truly reflect situations that most of us  experience. The protagonists may be the most stable of individuals but act out because of some sort of dark instinct inside themselves. This makes for a brilliant and thought-provoking read.

Road Rage – Page 29

Just before the light changed, the car shot across the intersection and veered suddenly into the lane of oncoming traffic and passed a FedEx truck. Billy lost sight of it because he wasn’t about to risk a pass. At the next set of lights, though, the truck turned into the left turning land and, lo and behold, there was Mr. Hotshot-in-Black forced to a stop by too many cars crossing the intersection. The lights changed. The black car squealed ahead and, without signalling, made a sharp turn at the next corner. If everyone followed the rules, there was a greater chance of survival. In one way or another, the army had drummed that idea into him until he half-believed it. Shagging a chick or two in his recreation room certainly broke the rules, according to his wife. He thought he had lost track of the car when it veered around another corner down the road, without signalling.

A residential neighborhood. Suppose a child ran out on the street, chasing a ball. Just as that shirtless boy in baggy white trousers had run on to a dusty road to pick up and fondle a grenade that looked like a baby armadillo in the searing sun. It exploded in black smoke. If he hadn’t done so, Billy’s jeep would have ridden over it. He had been ordered not to stop for civilians under any circumstances. The car pulled into a driveway in front of a bungalow. Should he recite all the statistics about the thousands injured annually, the thousands maimed and killed by inept drivers ignoring the rules of the road? The soldiers ripped and sundered on the road?

Radu has a fantastic writing style and the stories he has constructed here are very complex at times. Not a quick read but one that is thought provoking and engaging.

Candles Page 99-100

Alexei was good. Sandy was good, too. Cicely was good. His father, too, swept away in the flood, swept away to another life somewhere. Like Anastasia, maybe even Alexei wandering through Siberian forests, traipsing among the Ural mountains, trying to find his way back to life, to his family who missed him so much, so much, it hurt to remember his father, lake a paper cut on his finger. “Yuri, dead, Cicely you let go, dead, dead, don’t you understand, dead!” his mother had screamed at him when she cried in the small apartment kitchen. He had tried to console her, crying himself: “Maybe, Cicely’s not drowned, mama, just lost, maybe.” She pushed him away, raised a fist against his face but did not strike.

Earthbound by Kenneth Radu is an emotional collection of short stories. A must read for anybody interested in the human condition and a must read for anybody struggling with human emotions.



Link to DC Books Canada page for Earthbound




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