Reviewed by Amy Gruzesky
An interesting and intriguing collection of short stories by Israeli author Hovav Heth, the characters in these stories are ordinary people doing ordinary things, when a random event, memory or thought interferes and wreaks havoc — changing their fate and their lives in ways they never saw coming.
In the first story, which shares the same title as the book, a couple is about to enjoy a romantic lobster dinner, when the man walks by the kitchen, sees a lobster being cooked and falls victim to a chain reaction of irrational thoughts and feelings that cause an escalating, and tragic, chain reaction of events.
In “War Games”, a prolific computer gamer’s obsession with a sci-fi war game parallels his disintegrating romantic relationship with his girlfriend.
In “The Eulogy”, a has-been musician who is depressed about his failing career and fading looks fantasizes about faking his own death to inspire a resurgence of interest in his past successful music days, only to find a different, and more fulfilling, path when he starts the plan in motion.
In “The Orange Mosquito Stories”, a man’s ability to communicate with mosquitoes, whether real or imagined, turns out to be a pscyhic occurrence of sorts, and interestingly, the stories within this one short story, bring together the characters from the previous stories in a strange, but surprisingly satisfying, way.
In “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away” a man mistakenly grabs his wife’s cellphone on his way to work one day, and discovers a mysterious number that leads to him hiring a private detective and making an astonishingly weird and coincidental discovery.
These and the other stories within this collection are surprisingly addictive, most likely because of the narration-like style in which they are written.
Reading them is almost like hearing someone tell them to you, and the stories’ arcs and plots make them engaging and move them along at a quick pace — getting you to the sometimes surprising, sometimes ambiguous, but definitely fulfilling, or at least thought-provoking conclusions.
They also have a level of depth that makes you truly interested in the characters, their experiences and each story’s outcome, while also helping the reader to connect to them, making the events and conclusions in each story even more impactful.