The Dead Are More Visible
Even with so few pages, short stories can often be more complex than a full-length novel. And Steven Heighton knows what he’s doing when it comes to the short story. His new collection is called The Dead Are More Visible, the title of one of the stories within.
His short stories range from 15 to 40 pages long, and I can’t believe how much he gets across in so few words.
Heighton seems to have a natural talent for understanding and describing someone’s true nature. In “A Right Like Yours,” Trav is, “shy… maybe cold, with green eyes that don’t meet your eyes but look at your mouth or chin in the same way as, when you’re in the ring, the other girl will stare a little below your eyes.”
In the story “Shared Room on Union,” Janna is, “always capable, composed, professional, as though feeling herself under constant scrutiny by some ethical mentor… Only this much frivolity and no more. As if she was afraid of some tipping point.”
Heighton also knows how to create dynamic relationships between the characters – an engaged couple who doesn’t know each other well enough, until they are trapped in the trunk of a car overnight; two boxers who fall for each other after being forced to fight within the ring.
Even though Heighton fills the short stories with so much complexity, they always leave you asking more. Those questions keep you thinking about the stories long after you’re done reading them. And I love books that do that to you.
Speaking of short stories, there’s another collection that I would highly recommend – Douglas Smith’s Chimerascope. There’s one particular story that is beyond creepy, and that’s why I love it. There’s not much I can say about “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” without spoiling it, so I won’t. But it’s eerie.
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