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Katherine Tomlinson has a jaundiced and some would say morbid view of the world around her, as shown in the obviously ironic title, “Just Another Day In Paradise” of this volume of short stories.
A few of the stories in this book include supernatural elements. While this reviewer does not favor this genre, others who do will likely give; “Just Another Day In Paradise” at least another 1/2 star. And even in this genre “The Sin Eater” is a good tale.
In any case the stories that are not supernatural are generally good, many about the explosions of aggressive psychotics. Except for the very aged, most people get by each day by believing that their death will be in the distant future. Katherine’s stories seek to disavow us of this illusion.
Some of the stories like “Monochrome” seem like sketches that beg to be filled out. But even as sketches they are good. Others sketches like “Dangerous Chartreuse” are complete and take the reader to Katherine’s repetitive theme of the fragility of life.
There are a number of good stories here, including the title story; “Just Another Day In Paradise”, which tells the tale of a middle class woman (going through hard times) having to make a trip to the Welfare office out of desperation. It is both sad and funny. This story, as others in the book, also brilliantly captures the unedited inner conversations that run though all of our minds during our daily lives.
While Katherine’s penchant to write about aggressive psychotics appears throughout the book, the best of them is Maura’s tale; “It All Came Out In The Wash”, with its twisty and ironic ending.
My very favorite stories of Katherine’s however, are about normal people, who under the stresses of daily life and deep alienation devolve into psychosis.
One of these is Ellie’s tale; “Early Release”. This traces a father daughter relationship as he deteriorates with terminal cancer and Ellie volunteers to give him end of life care.
My favorite story however and the only one I consider to be great in this volume, (alone it would be 5 stars and as good as a short story gets) is Clea’s tale, “Fair Weather Friend”. In this story Katherine creates a flesh and blood character, (whom any of us might know) in just a few words.
Everything seems normal in the life of Clea, a loan officer, until Susan walks into the bank and sits herself at Clea’s desk.
While some of the stories are not filled in well enough and others are unwieldy, “Contingency”, this is generally a good grouping of stories that show great potential.
If you think you would like to read this book, you can get it here for just $2.99