Verdict: In a must-read, in-your-face collection of spine-tingling short stories rife with metaphor, author Samuel Bigglesworth approaches the taboo subject of death and the triumph of the human spirit with humor, brutal honesty and compassion.
Death. It’s often taboo because it’s a subject that’s too painful to be discussed and yet aches to be addressed. Unabashedly, author Samuel Bigglesworth goes there in his latest collection of short stories aptly christened, A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE.
For anyone who has ever experienced a brush with death in any way, Bigglesworth writes–not to rip off the bandage–but to boldly exhume the discomfort we keep buried inside. These 14 must-read fictional stories speak to all walks of life to elicit a sense of enlightenment and acceptance about the topic that we feel is best avoided. Or is it? As master sick-lit novelist John Green put it, “Grief doesn’t change you. It reveals you.” As Bigglesworth muses, dying, “would be free from pain, but to feel pain is to live.” In A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE, Bigglesworth explores the many concepts surrounding demise: dying with dignity, suicide, dealing with the emotional pangs of declining health, life’s purpose, and even death in the sense of one’s former, colder self. The stories–a wake-up call to humanity–take place in a hospital, others in the gorgeous depths of Mother Nature and share the common theme of human need.
“The Coral Tailed Waffle Bird” tells the tale of a little girl frustrated when she can’t locate a dumb, yet attractive bird during a sighting with her father, who attempts to remind her of all the other awe-inspiring birds that she chose to miss out on while in search of something “cool” yet unreachable. The story awakens the inner child in all of us who behave in a juvenile manner, when we want what we can’t have, and shows us how our stubborn curiosity makes us lose sight of what really counts. Funnily, the author demonstrates this so-called “need” can be easily quashed with some other gratifying distraction. In “I’m Cold Darling,” a sick woman’s desperate plea to be taken to a hospital is rebuffed by her partner, whose self-involved attitude intrudes on her dire need to be treated, and thus results in a rude awakening. In his search for his life’s purpose, an empty young man finds solace in getting a four-legged friend in “The Dog Whisperer,” while a terminally ill homeless woman quests to die with dignity in the title story.
A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE is a bittersweet tribute to death in all its complexity and boldly tugs at the heartstrings of what it is to be human.
~Lianna Albrizio for IndieReader