The Man, The Myth, The Legend

by Chris Orcutt

Verdict: THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND is a stimulating and entertaining collection of stories about the adventure in every man’s life, work and passion.

IR Rating

 
 

5.0

IR Rating

Author Chris Orcutt serves up a deliciously cheeky and ironic collection of short stories that offer glimpses into the perilous lives of ten men from vastly different walks of life and eras.

Whether it is a hunter in Africa, or a feisty General of a Civil War-era army, a gentlemanly writer, a senior road engineer, dogcatcher, or an artist daring to live outside New England; Orcutt highlights the tongue-in-cheek intrigue, danger and adventure in each man’s life.

The title of the book, coupled with the manly LEGO figure of Indiana Jones sets the stage for the stories which sometimes draw upon interaction and inspiration from well known fictional and real-life characters, such as in The Last Great White Hunter. This tells the story of hunter Buck Remington and is set in the quintessential manly Ernest Hemingway setting among the wild animals of Africa. Though Remington grows up surrounded by dangers as he hunts wild beasts; he finds himself most vulnerable to a more elusive creature.

The Magnificent Murphy is an engaging parody of writers and neighbors that is told from the perspective of protagonist Nick Carraway. Nick finds himself involved in a mysterious and intensifying feud between his neighbor Michaels-Murphy who has written such literary masterpieces such as ‘Hamlet the Ghoul Dane,’ and ‘Moby Dick, Sea Detective,” and his other neighbor, the literature-loving, Gatsby.

In a story that has a Twilight Zone-ish sense to it entitled, Sonata for Knife& Violin in DMajor; Op.1 “Revenge,”a musician is inspired by ‘hands on involvement’ that transforms him “from a sterile musical contraption into a human being who experienced every note with blinding soul-searing intensity.” And to his surprise, finds he has inspired another with his methods.

In the bonus story, “The Lost Dispatches of General George B. McClellan,” (which is a downloadable pdf from author’s website); Orcutt offers up the fictional and funny correspondence from the real life McClellan who was known for his popularity among his men, but not his superiors. The farcical letters give insight into McClellan’s idiosyncrasies that could explain his popularity with men and his historical at-odds-relationship with President Abraham Lincoln.

Orcutt’s diverse vignettes reveal that the rich really aren’t so different by bringing out the adventure in the life of even the ordinary man’s seemingly mundane experience, as highlighted in the story ‘The Man Behind The Signs,’ whose seemingly mundane work as a Senior Road Sign Engineer offers moments of extreme competition, death threats as well as some sexy dirty talk.

Orcutt’s fresh, lively descriptions preserve the irony of the stories, as with the description of Nick Carraway’s “mean little bungalow that quaked in the shadow of Gatsby’s mansion like a tick beneath a Burmese elephant,” or Nick’s discovery that the cook was so engrossed with her book that “The bacon strips suffered horribly from her divided loyalties, smoldering like Inquisition victims in a fire pit.”

Orcutt’s glib use of language and deft ability to switch into multifarious voices and writing style captures the nuances of time, setting and mentality of each protagonist, whether it is the aristocratic literati circle of Nick Carraway’s neighbors, or the drunk and unemployed protagonist of The Bootlegger transporting barrels from Canada to the U.S.; making each story unique, engaging and insightful.

THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND is a stimulating and entertaining collection of stories about the adventure in every man’s life, work and passion.

Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader

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