Papier Mache Jesus: A short story collection that should not be missed.

This is a short story collection that should not be missed.

This is a short story collection that should not be missed.

This is a short story collection that should not be missed.

I just wanted to drum that into you before getting to the why. I like a good collection. Donihe has a great collection of poetry already to his name. I love sitting down and tearing through a flash fiction collection. And some of my favourite stories over the past couple of years have come from novella collections. What this is, you will find when you read it for yourself, is a collection of stories that are not too long and not too short. They are precisely short stories, doing what short stories do best.

When you read a flash fiction collection, it’s all about the prose, the clever word play, the quick, short, creative flashes that spring up on the page one moment, and gone the next. When you read a series of novellas, they become layered in complexities, going into details and venturing down places you could otherwise not go if your time were more limited.

What Donihe has here is nineteen short stories. They follow their strange narratives briefly. The characters have histories outside these stories that we will never know about. They are strange, magical, mad, grotesque, vile, brilliant things. They are tortured, and wonderful. Donihe’s prose is amazing, his stories are dark and imaginative and fascinating. They don’t vanish like flash fiction, nor do they bog down like novellas. These stories are not all of them memorable.

Some appealed to me more than others. The themes of age and life and death in ‘Compassion’ and ‘The Boy Memorial’ were completely captivating. I found myself relating to the nightmarish world of retail exploitation in ‘The Fast Food Diaries’. The stories and styles in this collection are diverse. I loved the innovation of ‘Scholar’s Note from a Book Now Lost’, ‘Paul and the Computer’, and ‘Alternate Oz Ending’. They were all different, with their own quirks and details and favourable aspects.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the opening story ‘All Children Go to Hell’, and I probably would have chosen a different story to open the collection. But it still feels like it has a place in this collection. Strong writing, strong style, each story feels like Donihe’s writing. The collection (with stories spanning his teens, twenties, and thirties) certainly plays to his strengths. It has its fair share of great stories, but my favourite of the bunch is a story of reality unhinged, in ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’.

This is a short story collection that should not be missed.


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