by Ken Coffman and Adina Pelle
reviewed by Michael Radon
"Examined in the morning light, he was fascinated by the dream of a new life—a life where he was unchained—bearing a fresh name and a different mask."
In this collection of grippingly diverse short stories, the authors combine their perspectives and views of the world and the people in it. Subject matter ranges from particle physics to teenage heartbreak, from the composition of a man's soul to invaders "from the Planet Tampon." Authors Coffman and Pelle, an engineer raised in rural Oregon and a Romanian artist respectively, take turns submitting stories, taking a few pages after each one to capture a dialogue between the two asking questions about the inspiration, process, or influences behind a particular story, giving the reader an insight into details they may have missed without picking each piece apart. As a reader or an aspiring writer, this creates an interesting opportunity to discuss the birth and development of a piece along every stage of creation.
Taken from a number of works in their respective writing careers, short story anthologies can be kind of a mixed bag, hit or miss, but Coffman and Pelle's is a fresh take—innovative, personal, and entertaining. This is a good read, playing out as a sort of contest or regular meeting between the two authors that involves good food, good conversation, and best of all the trading of stories back and forth. Themes, like the authors, tend to alternate between pragmatism and romanticism, masculine and feminine, scientific and Bohemian, but not always from the author whom you might expect.