Verdict: Del Priore operates in the same style that Serling or the Monty Python troupe did, which is to say he takes ordinary settings and throws in madcap humor and/or supernatural occurrences that turn inside out a vignette that begins with a seemingly normal premise.
Joe Del Priore’s Twilight People is a collection of forty flash fiction stories that suggest what you would have gotten if Michael Palin and Rod Serling had worked together. His stories go without warning from Monty Python-style absurdity to horror and strangeness reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone,” and in the case of the latter example, Del Priore’s book is fittingly titled.
Del Priore operates in the same style that Serling or the Monty Python troupe did, which is to say he takes ordinary settings and throws in madcap humor and/or supernatural occurrences that turn inside out a vignette that begins with a seemingly normal premise. Fans of such fantasy writing will appreciate a conventional (by fantasy standards) “Puppet,” a story about a teacher whose evil hand puppet starts to control her thoughts and actions, an “Ensemble,” a classic ghost story involving dance. But other stories vividly display a unique mind at work, with many genuine laughs.
“The First Fifty-Degree Day” warns what happens to a new family in town when they don’t socialize with their neighbors on the first mild day of the year, with a hilarious use of chemical weaponry. “Overdue” realizes a library patron’s worst nightmare when he fails to return a book on time with images of sadistic tactics and a unique twist on the idea of the cavalry coming to the rescue. In “Clown Town,” a bureaucrat sent to negotiate with clowns when they go on strike and isolate themselves in New Jersey learns to appreciate the whitefaced merry pranksters as a formidable force.
Many of these stories feel like they were written on the spur of the moment, but Del Priore’s imagination is so original, they also feel fully realized and complete. If they were written after only one or two drafts, chances are that subsequent rewrites would have rendered them less interesting and less fresh. The spontaneity of Del Priore’s quick wit makes these pieces spark and crackle. There is a method to his madness that makes the characters in “Twilight People” come to life convincingly; as with the songs on the Beatles’s White Album, seemingly unrelated stories flow into a unified whole and feel like they belong together.
Reviewed by Steven Maginnis
Freelance writer. Blogger of current events and popular culture. Reviewer for IndieReader.com since 2009. www.stevenmaginnis.blogspot.com
Purchase Twilight People: Switchblade Stories from Amazon