I bring you reviews! I’m reviewing each of the stories featured in this month’s issue of eFicition magazine (which also happens to have a story by me).
This week, I take a look at Seven Seconds by BJ Neblett.
This work opens the issue, and I think it works well as an opener. From the first lines, the dark mood of the work is established as the reader meets a man before a mirror, holding a gun to his head. There is a lot of detailed scene-setting and description – I appreciate how deeply the reader is taken into this man’s reality. As the man readies to pull the trigger, he remembers dark days from his past. Each of these flashbacks takes place in one second, each triggered by a sound, taste, or feeling in the present.
The writer avoids too much detail in the flashbacks, quickly describing only the senses and feelings needed as each narrative moves along at a brisk pace. Usually when I reach a flashback in a work, my eyes roll up, but I appreciated the memories in this work. Each memory works to build up this character and how he came to the current suicidal situation.
I hope I don’t spoil anything here. I’ll just say that the final punch fell a little flat for me. Even though I read it slowly, it took me a second and third read to see how the ending worked for this piece. I was looking for a structure that said “Our protagonist has done this, this, and this, so here’s the unexpected result”. The end is somewhat unexpected, but I didn’t feel it was strong enough compared to the disturbing flashbacks used to reach it.
Without using too many adjectives, the author managed to paint meaningful, yet quick-moving flashback sequences. My writing could benefit if I adapt some of the descriptive narrative used in Seven Seconds.