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The Other End of the Rainbow

David Gardiner

 
" Spaces don’t look so big at night. The scale of the world becomes more comfortable.…"

Reviewed by Jason Makansi

The Rainbow Man, a mythical story-telling gadfly, at once the court jester, town drunk, and muttering old sage, introduces each story in this artful collection, where a sense of dignity seems to permeate the space around the words, and the circus of colorful characters that speak them. We're introduced to a psychological therapist who decides you, dear reader, are his next "chat up," a strange tenant who just seems to start talking to you about how "normal" he isn't, and a man who talks to you about his comatose wife. No, wait. He's talking to his comatose wife! 

A multi-layered, sophisticated story, Sam, one of the longer ones of the collection, deals with recovery from a serious head injury, and the uncovering of two people from the same brain. Through this story, the reader embarks on a journey through the "firings of tiny brain cells and the pattern of their interconnection." 

Gardiner uses the word parable to describe his stories. Indeed, Man the Pumps! which, lo and behold, even begins with "Once upon a time," is a thinly veiled send-up of wayward faith and terrorism perpetrated in the name of religion, mostly pointing at radical Islam. But it works.  The Claddagh Brooch features a man regretting late in life not acting on a crush at work. The day he finally gets up the nerve to express his feelings is the day she leaves their place of work to get married. Moral of this parable: Time is short; don't waste it. Again, simple, almost child-like, but it works. 

Even in a rather gruesome story, New Gloves, there's a dignity to the dialogue as one character terrorizes another with the threat of an infectious disease in retaliation for being accosted. You won't believe what the gloves cover up. At the other end of the spectrum is Cambridge, one of those stories where nothing really happens, but the situation keeps you reading along. In this case, a man and a woman, both in other relationships, meet each year at a music festival with the only rule that they must tell each other the truth. Their mutual understanding and care can't be compromised even by the fact that they tell each other about their other affairs and trysts, too. Again, there's a dignity to the story, the way it makes us yearn for mutual respect, though we know this ideal relationship doesn't come close to reflecting the messiness of real life, and rampant infidelity is the norm for this "couple." New Gloves and Cambridge certainly demonstrate Gardiner's range with his material. 

My personal favorite, Light of the World, harkens back to Twain and the traveling hucksters making a buck off that "old time religion". Reverend Fishbone offers salvation and healing, for a price, but the reader gets an insidious message about the relativity of evil. 

"'Folks either help themselves or nobody helps them. Everything just depends on what you've got going on in here.' He tapped his head. 'There ain't nothing out there. Just the dark.'"

The last line is biblical in modern day proportion: "Artificial light manufactured by mankind to hold the darkness of the world at bay." In the end, Rainbow Man delivers. Dignified, simply told tales, wise beyond their words.

Read the story Light of the World from this collection on DavidGardiner.net

 Jason Makansi has published several poems and half a dozen short stories in a variety of literary journals, as well as one accepted by the Amazon Shorts Program and available at www.amazon.com/shorts for the low, low price of 49 cents (you read that right). In 2009, he was selected to attend the renowned Annual Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Makansi has also published three professional books and numerous works of non-fiction in the fields of engineering, energy, environmental science, and economics.

Jason's other Short Reviews: Susie Bright (ed) "The Best of Best American Erotica"

Warren Adler "New York Echoes"

Frances Thimann "Cell and Other Stories"

Steven Coy (ed) "See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming"

Deborah Bostock Kelley "Damaged Goods: Narrative Unendings from Inside My Heart and Mind"

 

Publisher: Merilang Press

Publication Date: 2008

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First collection?No

Author bio: David Gardiner is an ex-pat Irishman living and writing from London. His first listed published work is science fiction. This is Mr. Gardiner's second collection of short stories featuring Rainbow Man, a story-telling man about town. You will note David’s brave sense of humor and humanity immediately when you are greeted at his website by a photograph of Osama bin Laden.

Read an interview with David Gardiner


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