Review: The Uninnocent: Stories by Bradford Morrow

   The Uninnocent: Stories
Bradford Morrow; Hardcover, 272 pages / Kindle Edition
Published December 15th 2011 by Pegasus Books
Source: egalley from NetGalley
Bradford Morrow’s stories have garnered him awards such as the O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes and have given him a devoted following. Now gathered here for the first time is a collection of his finest, gothic tales.A young man whose childhood hobby of collecting sea shells and birds’ nests takes a sinister turn when he becomes obsessed with acquiring his brother’s girlfriend, in “The Hoarder” (selected as one of the Best American Noir Stories of the Century). An archeologist summoned to attend his beloved sister’s funeral is astonished to discover it is not she who has died, but someone much closer to him, in “Gardener of Heart.” A blind motivational speaker has a crisis of faith when he suddenly regains his sight, only to discover life was better lived in the dark, in “Amazing Grace.”In all of these stories, readers will find themselves enthralled and captivated by one of the most potent voices in contemporary American fiction.
Goodreads blurb

This is my second reading experience with Bradford Morrow, and it proved to be yet another memorable one. After reading Fall of the Birds [review link], the chance of reading some gothic, some yummy noir by the same author was extremely tempting. I’m glad I fell pray to the temptation.

The 12 stories range from the troubling and touching to the disconcerting and unnerving, all in beautiful writing and emotionally gripping imagery. Some I’ve personally liked more then others, some are a tad too disturbing while others I fully and wholeheartedly loved. Together though, they form an interesting, exciting and scary journey into the human mind, an exploration into dusty nooks of the human soul.

The Hoarder, the first story of the collection, starts out deceivingly tame. Touching, beautiful, and deceitfully tame; as it progresses, the degree of  troubling slowly ascends to bring the reader a shock, then slowly subsides only to flare up again at the end. After that adventure, I was edified in respect to the type of read this collection would be: bold, fearless, subtle here and brutal there – in fewer words, a delight.

Amazing Grace and The Road to Nadeja were my personal favorites of the collection because the light they shine on the characters involved shows more then devious urges or pathologic needs; they show the simple but crushing darkness of solitude and the value of hope (pun intended regarding the second title). While dark and certainly troubling, they also have a bit of that inherent human shimmer of light.

Some of the stories, like Whom no hate stirs none dances, The Uninnocent or Tsunami, were on the disturbing side, some a lot disturbing in fact. I would have a hard time saying I enjoyed reading them, but I found it to be a truly interesting experience, and despite their somber and/or chilling quality they had a fascinating tone, so fascinating in fact that despite the fact I was cringing nearer the end I wouldn’t have been able to stop reading them.
In fact, I will confess to having read some of the stories twice, or even three times before writing down these words. And I believe I will reread them again after I’ll be done writing these words, they’re so well written and so charismatic that I can’t really move on. They’re clinging to my thoughts with these shadowy tentacles, it’s really strange but darkishly beautiful.

All things considered, I say if you like noir and you have the stomach to cringe at the multiple facets of the human soul without being horrified, you should definitely read this. But it’s not a beginners dish, in my humble opinion, it’s more like a treat for the connoisseur.

Seriously, if you’re not curious about the stories and their darksih beauty then you need to watch the promo clip again xDDD



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