“Strange Medicine” by Mike Russell

There is a sub-genre of short stories that ought to have “Weird” in the name. A short story seems to be the ideal length to explore a simple problem, and certain writers thrive on presenting a simple problem in a complicated and entertaining way, thus keeping our interest alive and our intellects working.
By putting the word “Strange” in his title, Mike Russell has given us a clear signal. Yep, some of these are pretty weird. People have brick walls following them around. They fall in love with their telephones. And the gem of the lot is a story that manages to be entertaining by describing the actions of a mime. Written words and mime are two media that never should mix, but the fact that they do is the whole point of the story (I think, anyway). The medium may not quite be the message, but I’m betting Marshall McLuhan would be pleased.
In trying to assess this sort of work, there are a couple of criteria that are useful. First, are the characters sympathetic and interesting? In these stories, most of them are, and those that are the least sympathetic are the most interesting, so it balances out. Anthony Tobias Bradshaw (who never shortens his name) is an example, because of the interesting places on his anatomy that he places bulldog clips. No, I’m not going to tell you. It’s worth the price of the book to find out.
The other gauge is whether the story is useful. What’s the point? Why should I read it? This is difficult to answer, but I can assure you, without a word of a lie, that within ten minutes of finishing this book I was writing a blog post entitled “How Modern Art Has Replaced Organized Religion in Our Society.” Which had nothing to do with any of the stories, but my mind was freed up. Thanks, Mike.
So, weird and wonderful as it may be, this book is obviously worth something in the practical sense. Highly recommended for fans of the weird, wonderful, and thoughtful.
(5 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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