I couldn't think of a more fitting title for this group of seven stories. "We're in Trouble," by Christopher Coake will make you hold your breath from the tension and will claw at you with its brave glare at death.
The title story is a group of three shorter stories with characters all haunted by death--either the impending death of a loved one, or the death of a stranger.
"Cross Country" tells two stories in one: a boy is traveling back east with his father and at a truck stop he sees another boy in a truck. The boy is disturbed by what he thinks is a boy in trouble. Coake then tells the story of the boy in the truck. Coake does this so brilliantly the reader doesn't quite know what to make of the situation right up until the end.
"Solos," is the story of one man's obsession with climbing and the affects it has on his family.
"In the Event," is a heartbreaking story of a young man on the night he learns his best friends have died in a car crash and left him in charge of their three-year-old son.
"A Single Awe," tells of the one event that holds a tenuous marriage together.
In "Abandon," a young couple breaks into a cabin on the Upper Peninsula. One of them is sure she wants to choose her own death and the other is an ex-con. They're unprepared for the cold weather and storm that hits and for the emotional ride of love.
The last one, "All Through the House," if I could have read it with my hand over my eyes I would have. It's the story of a house that once held a tradegy: a man kills his family. But Coake skillfully layers information so that the whole picture sneaks up on the reader and is not without surprises.
If you're not afraid of the scary places in the lives of people, and I'm not talking about ghosts or the supernatural, this is a must read. Coake writes with one eye on the ugly and one eye on the beautiful until the reader can't tell which is which.
Christopher Coake's website
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.