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