Jan 9th, 2018, Whatever Comes After Calcutta by David Erik Nelson, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

This is a story with some interesting loose ends in it. It starts out when the protagonist comes home from work to find his wife in bed with another man. There are some truly funny sections of this piece concerning human anatomy, and the processing the protagonist does concerning said anatomy.

When his wife inexplicably shoots the protagonist in the head (a glancing shot that slices hid cheek and shoots off most of his ear) and then runs away with the other man, I was always expecting the why of this violence to come back and be explained. But as is common, I’ve noticed, with short stories in this genre, it never does.

When the protagonist wakes up, he glues his ear back on and hits the road in the hopes of finding his wife and . . . he doesn’t really have a plan other than that. But then he sees a woman being hung from a tree, so he stops to rescue her. Apparently, she has been tried and found guilty of being a witch but a bunch of Trump supporters–no I’m serious, one guy even has a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, hat on. And that’s all I’ll give away.

This is a piece where I never really understood what was going to happen, or why things were happening the way they were–which is like real life. The paradox of this is: typically, in fiction, readers want to have at least an idea of where this is going, what the payoff might be. While you get a hint of it about halfway through, there wasn’t much emotion from the protagonist which might have made the situation more believable on my end. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I just felt a little left out of the protagonist’s experience, and that’s why it gets a (C-).

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