Half Dead/Road Kill: Paul Donohue
There are many ways in which people see the world, their lives and other people. Within this compilation of uniquely crafted stories are characters whose lives most of us would hope never to experience, wonder how they managed to survive at all and realize that within them is a sadness, despair and need to feel wanted, accepted or find a way to be what they would call “their normal.”
Imagine meeting a young girl while jogging and visualizing yourself as her permanent partner in life just by first glance. Bumping into her and causing her to become injured this young man thrives on the moments he spends with someone he just met and hopes he can explore a relationship later. But, his vision of what he sees, experiences and what happens is colored by the bright lights that he sees within his eyes and himself instead of understanding what happened and the encounter although meaningful to him brief and uneventful. We read a story about a man who hates his wife’s cooking, her eggs are anything but edible, her meat dishes would cause her to get thrown off of Top Chef even before the first round, but a special occasion and a special night makes it all okay. She cuts the vegetables while the narrator takes a bath. She made crabs while he still had a job and was at work. She creates fires that need to be put out, tuna fish casserole that causes him to go up on the roof. But, wait to you find out what she makes on Valentine’s Day that changes it all and makes it okay.
The West End is an unusual story of a young boy who just wants to meet his family and he takes the bus and walks the rest of the way to his Uncle’s house. The greeting he gets is quite unique and you wonder why he would even remain. The family is watching the big game or in other words: Football and they are not really thrilled that he is there and although they make him feel comfortable to a point they are mostly concerned about themselves and their wants. Not giving up and remaining there took a lot of guts and fortitude on the part of this young teen. Greeted by his Uncle and stating that they knew him was not really that comforting and hoping his parents would come for him was their hope. Our young narrator learns a lot about his family, is introduced to drinking beer, not such great pizza and gets a firsthand look at where he comes from. But, the ending will make you wonder whether he should come back and although family is important to him, you the reader have to decide if he was welcome. Dead Baby is another story that is quite dark as the author or narrator relates a story that he wrote about a story that he stole, put the facts at the beginning ad a hook and then explain what he threw in at the end. Of course he makes some valid points as I have to agree a good story must have a conflict, the ending should be unpredictable as well as the plot and well you decide if these two really have something or if they give up before they publish!
“Ida Lupino (4 February 1918 – 3 August 1995) was an English-American film actress and director, and a pioneer among women filmmakers. In her forty-eight-year career, she appeared in fifty-nine films and directed seven others, mostly in the United States, where she became a citizen in 1948. She co-wrote and co-produced some of her own films as well. She appeared in serial television programs fifty-eight times and directed fifty other episodes. Additionally, she contributed as a writer to five films and four TV episodes.” This story takes place at the hotel where Ida Lupino stayed. A man is lying face down on the ground and has died. People walk by and seem to ignore the fact that his has happened. But, our narrator describes the scenery, where he lived, the lack of pain in his face, the position of his body and the fact that people just go about their business as if this never happened. He narrator “stands sentinel over the dead man.” He describes him so vividly you can see his face when you close your eyes. He realizes that the man had started to call 911 and he calls for him even though it is too late. The story is sad but yet quite realistic as society often shows a lack of empathy, warmth or even sympathy for someone hurt and in this case deceased. Sad, but true that many would walk over him, around him but only one man thought to show him so respect. Finally, Liver which is something I would never eat yet Ed West prided himself on making it. The author describes in detail how he cooked the liver, why it was important to him and how, even though he is older, required assistance and care, he still managed to get what he needed but not quite in the same way. The trip to the market brought some snags as he started to forget things. Not seeing the regular person that filled his order made it harder for him to explain and get what was needed. After all he is older and his faculties were not as sharp but Ed seemed to persist and would not give up. But, the ending is quite illuminating, where he winds up might surprise you and once again people did not stop to help the poor man that sat on the curb in his gray suit. Learn what finally happens when you read Liver.
Each story carries its own message and each story presents a situation where the main character reflects on something in their lives, a situation that they cannot change, a trip that is quite unusual, and a man who waited and hoped his wife would leave him until the reality set in and he realized how he felt.
Half Dead/Road Kill is not your usual compilation of stories but a journey into the minds, lives of people that need acceptance, love, understanding and to find a way to live in this world.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Imagine going to dinner and thinking you are going to have a heart attack as you meet Ed West in the first of three stories that the author created around this character. Have you ever been so enamored with someone that you find their presence so powerful that you wish you could be around them all the time? Imagine meeting someone having a whirlwind courtship your face flushes, you gush and you describe incidents that are very romantic. A woman who thought her husband was the most amazing man and yet when this 16 year old who relates the events and the story tells it you shudder, shake and get chills down your spine when you learn the inside truth behind closed doors about a father who deserved anything but AWE!
Ed West as I said appears in three stories and the first he states that he has a heart attack face! His wife Aggie looks at him and worries and realizes that something might be wrong. He is only 31 years old and yet a fatalist. At an affair at a club you can tell his mind is elsewhere and as the awards are given out he seems sidetracked and really not within the realm or conscious realm of those attending. The end of the story describes a man who gets drunk, embarrasses himself and finally just might realize well you decide when you read it.