Review of Long Live Us by Mark R. Brand

Long Live Us CoverTitle: Long Live Us

Author: Mark R. Brand

Publisher: CCLaP Publishing

Format: e-ARC

Where I Received the Title: from Publisher

Review:

Let me start off my review by saying I was previously unfamiliar with Mark R. Brand or the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP). Then, strangely enough, when I was with my family one night in Chicago of all places, I received an email from the publisher asking if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of Long Live Us. Since the universe was saying something, who was I to resist?

I read a fair amount of short fiction. I’d estimate it makes up about twenty percent of my reading, but it is rare that I will pick up a single-author collection without having read the author previously. My previous attempt did not bode well.

I am pleased to say that Mark R. Brand is a competent author. I wouldn’t call his stories as much of the SF variety as they are of the weird variety. Authors like Roald Dahl, Joe Hill, and Chuck Palahniuk come to mind. Now that’s a great crowd to be in when it comes to short stories. The tales within are largely dystopian — housebound families remain quarantined amidst a meningitis epidemic and desperate teenagers exchange favors for morsels of food. There are a few hits and others I didn’t care for as much, but the story worthy of most attention is the first story, “Red Rocket.” In this story, a schoolboy named Darryl waits in line to see the principal after getting into a fight with a classmate. He believes his father is on an important lunar mission, but gossip spreading among the kids and their parents says otherwise. Through a series of flashbacks and conversations, Darryl sets on a path to discover who his father really is. While the protagonist is left with a sense of certainty, the reader is cleverly less-convinced of his father’s true lot in life. In that respect, I found the story to be quite satisfying.

As for the entire collection, it contains the following stories:

  • Red Rocket
  • Potluck
  • Nose Goblins
  • The Tree Over Garret’s Hole
  • The Insurgent
  • She Was Never Free to Begin With
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The Woman in the Pit

Brand’s selected stories are diverse and are good for readers who are looking for something peculiar, but not overly-filled with fantastic elements. It’s a short collection and I managed to read a bulk of the stories in one sitting. If you’re looking to try something new and different or want to support a local Chicago author, give this collection a shot.

 

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  1. Long Live Us by Mark R. Brand | Sabotage

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