Nine Shorts by Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr.
Illustrations by Steven P. Eilers
In Nine Shorts, an enchanting collection of short stories, author Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr. serves up a tempting mix of his trademark genre: fiction science and magic realism. As a biologist, teacher, lawyer, and historian he pains adventures that sometimes seem real. For instance, the main character in “A Bed in the Corner of the Attic” discusses the strange world of sleep apnea. But as “sounds of claw-toed scratching,” and narrow filaments “begin to extend from the gap between upper and lower mattresses,” we begin to question: is this a love story or a horror story? Is it a dream analysis? A full-blown nightmare? You decide.
The writer is a wordsmith who delights with understated humor. His extensive knowledge of the sciences combines with allusions to Biblical quotes, classical literature, and pop culture to create imaginative escapades. Occasionally he even slips into an intimate discussion with the reader. He invites us into his personal space and bestows his characters with names as though close friends. One story often lends information to another, such as in “Side-Step,” which is connected to “Ollie Deaton and the Breathitt Coutny Silver Mind,” and “The Manure Pit.”
You will be alternately charmed, mesmerized, and uplifted with these nine offerings of fantasy and philosophy. Whether the tales bring you joy or terror, let this talented writer lead you into his metaphysical world.