Monday, May 30, 2011

Purgatory - Steven Thor Gunnin

Author: Steven Thor Gunnin
Date: 2010
Setting: The present, some U.S. city
Availability: In the anthology Elements of the Soul

Story: A man named Blackie tells the story, mostly in the first person. He has had a near-death experience when his car goes off a bridge, and he almost drowns. He is explaining all this to a trio of Mexican brothers at a strip joint. They want to know all about what it was like to come so close to death. Blackie is telling them, but making up a lot of it as he goes along. The three Latinos do figure out that he's teasing them at first, but as Blackie continues they have trouble separating the factual from the imaginary.

He explains that his job is to prepare bodies for autopsies at the morgue. He's been having a lot of strange experiences recently. In particular, he wants to talk about a girl named Jamie who committed suicide. However, it seems that Hector, Vincente, and Guillermo also knew Jamie.

Commentary: The dead and undead are Thor Gunnin's favorite themes, and there is plenty of suspense along those lines. That said, I had some trouble following this story. Sometimes Blackie just speaks in the first person, and sometimes he is referred to in the third person.

This story may not be for everyone. There is a lot of foul language, and a clear statement that admission to heaven is based on a merit system.

Author info: Steven Thor Gunnin is a graphic designer who writes in his spare time, and is a big fan of George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). Gunnin has two stories in this anthology.

Language skills 4
Depth of meaning 2


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