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‘Sandcastle and Other Short Stories’- Another Top of 2012 (review)

No argument or even need to think this through, Sandcastle and Other Stories is on my best of 2012 list! I was one of the ARC readers, I never was able to completely finish it in one sitting, but since then and since it has won awards, been featured all over and is being sung praises left and right. Now I have read it four times. The first time I read this I had a night full of crazy dreams. This is DARK and foreboding.. creative.. but let me save some of it for the review, I am really thrilled he asked me to pop in on his book tour and write up a review so I read, re-read, read outloud and shared with my family, friends and colleques at the university this collection. Justin is an outstanding and beautiful writer and I am thrilled and honored to be part of his circle of friends. He also lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my not so humble opinion. The backyard to my old stomping grounds off the Narrows in Puget Sound. The artwork for the cover was painted by his father and as festive as it looks, remember what may look pleasant and safe on the outside…. well… go pick it up and see! Sandcastle and Other Stories available at Amazon in eBook format with a print version coming soon. For $3.99 I do not think you can NOT afford to pick it up.

THE BOOK

Sandcastle and Other StoriesSandcastle-Badge6

Ten literary, psychological, and suspense tales collected in Sandcastle and Other Stories are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. An old man twisted by fate and a lost love . . . a young girl playing on the ocean shore becomes entangled in nets of a mercurial god . . . a divorced man mired in troubles, coerced into taking a singles’ cruise . . . a Hollywood actor in a television drama, always typecast as the bad boy . . . a child kept awake by night terrors, and a woman who hides her secretive personality from everyone on the beach one sunny day. Genuine voices of the characters, mixed with a clear-eyed tonal directness, make this a series with mesmerizing psychological interaction. Stories span a broad depth of human understanding and build a bridge between deepest chasms of pain and high portals of joy. Read Sandcastle and Other Stories and stand witness to unspeakable hate sitting with cozy while, right beside unconditional love — a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition.

THE REVIEW

 As he’s walking away I know he’s still thinking about trains, wondering what a really big train crash would look like, the first car striking something twisted on the tracks and dragging the following cars off the rails, tumbling over on their sides with a world-stopping screech.” location 2227

Everybody loves a good train wreck, though personally I vote for the roller coaster because I can get my fill of other people’s misfortunes, the Schadenfreude, bright bloody and visceral. But wait, is this what the collection is about? No but there are a few train wrecks in it, a few boundaries pushed. This is not a light festive read, the Sandcastle? Well I am betting there is a foot print smack dab in the middle of it.

I read a couple of the stories out loud to Geoff, one of which had him so excited we ended up getting into a two-hour discussion on this particular form of story telling. After finishing  Mother of Twins, Geoff immediately said, “Read the next one, I am really enjoying this, it reminds me of Flannery O’Connor‘s writing!”  This is the third story in the collection and starts off with a creepy Stepford Wives feel. As with all the other stories in this book, the door opens a bit more as it progresses, the jaws of life prying apart the wrecked side of the last car and contents revealed. In the end the grotesqueness of the human spirit revealed in a the form that is also a desperate beauty, a  justifiable need. Her weakness exposed like a pile of intestines, we cannot turn away and yet we want too, we can’t. Again, train wreck!

But train wrecks are not always ugly, bloody and a mess. Sometimes you are riding a train when it happens, the cars ahead start to brake before smashing into a wall and  jostle you a bit. Instead of having your leg ripped of you fall into the lap of the man or woman in the bench in front of you. You know the one, the sunlight hitting their glasses, preventing you seeing their eyes? The beauty seems real and you are like, wow how lucky I am, then the blinds dropped and as beautiful as they are … there is something different and disturbing. Beauty you cannot look away from, as dangerous as it maybe, drawing you into its clutches. The story Poseidon Eyes is a little  like this. Just look beyond the fins and see what I mean when you read it.

If I were to pick a favorite, I would be hard pressed. I can’t. Each one is its own train wreck, in fact there are a few roller coaster accidents, which as I said are my favorite. When the Ship Sinks probably is the one that gave me the most pause and qualifies as a roller coaster accident. The parallels and hidden metaphors are so lovely, disturbing and addictive I just did not want it to end, but FEMA was able to clear the tracks and I had to move along.

Sandcastle and Other Stories pushes the boundaries making you think. It is not cotton candy, a BLT or even a steak. It is complex Seafood Paella with mussels, spicy chorizo, clams, chicken, shrimp, sofrito,  short ribs and more. Blended perfectly and placed over rice you dig in, experiencing  joy, sweat breaking out from the spice as you gulp water and shovel more into your mouth unable to stop because of an evocation of pleasure and pain you received knowing the next time you get a chance to eat it, you will with even more splendor and abandonment!

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THE AUTHOR

Justin BogJustin Bog, first and foremost, grew up a voracious reader, movie fanatic, and music audiophile. Justin always carried a stack of library books and collected way too many comic books from his local Ohio small-town drugstore. More than one teacher scolded Justin to put his suspect reading materials away and join the class. Justin began to make up stories of his own, using an old typewriter he found in the attic.

So it comes as no surprise that Justin pursued an English Degree at the University of Michigan, followed by Film and Music Appreciation classes — finally graduating from Bowling Green State University with an MFA in Fiction Writing. After teaching creative writing, Justin began apprenticing in a number of bookstores and editing fiction for a midwestern journal. Justin ended up on the management team at Chapter One Bookstore in the Sun Valley resort area for a decade, offering book recommendations to its local celebrities, skiing fanatics, and tourists. Currently residing in the San Juan Islands just north of Seattle, Justin has the opportunity to focus on his own novels and short stories, while contributing commentary and reviews of Pop Culture. Justin continues to engage his lifelong passion for writing in combination with his curious mindset as the Senior Contributor and Editor at In Classic Style. Sandcastle and Other Stories is his first book.

Justin provides commentary and recommendations in Pop Culture as the Senior Contributor and Editor at In Classic Style.

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6 Comments

  1. A beautiful review for a book that is absolutely deserving of it. The stories are unique and gripping, and stayed with me. I agree they are meant to be reread, and your comparison to Flannery O’Connor is spot-on.

    Justin writes with a subdued elegance, which is rare for someone who writes short stories. He takes his time with the reader, treats them with intelligence, draws them in, gets them invested and the payoff is pure poetry.

    eden
    Show me some love!

    • Thank you, Eden. Incredible and inspiring. You do know you are awesome, right?
      Show me some love!

  2. I am so hungry now, Kriss, after reading your wild and lovely review. Thank you for reading and sharing Sandcastle and Other Stories with your blog readers. Means the world to me. And for stepping in as a book tour stop…wonderful to have the dark tales hit your senses so well, and for you to be able to verbalized that in such an original and creative way. Wow.

    • Oh you are quite welcome. Pressure was on with such a stellar collection!
      Show me some love!

  3. What a fantastic review! And Kriss is right. These short stories are all memorable and so is the review. My favourite is Sandcastle – it shocked me and I can still feel the chills I felt the day I read it. Great job Justin!

    • I love reading your thoughts, Dionne, and I cannot wait to dive into your new book, Shadows of the Realm. I’ve heard the dragon lore is unique. Love your writing too. Thank you.
      Show me some love!

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