This collection of short stories set in New York explores death and dreams. From the Catskill Mountains, to New York City and it's science research labs, the stories show the psychological horror of ordinary lives. The characters, young and old, explore the fine line drawn between sanity and insanity, reality and dream, life and death. Characters include a young scientist locked in a lab in an experiment turned nightmare, a student searching for love but caught in a dream, and a hit man confronting his childhood trauma, among others. The stories follow the choices realistic characters make when death becomes an inescapable part of their lives. Author J.J.Brown, a scientist, brings the authenticity of a modern science background to these realistic stories of psychological struggle.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.34(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was intrigued by the title of this book and wondered what type of short stories would be included an anthology about death and dreams. Since I knew JJ was a scientist, I expected science fiction or speculative stories. Instead, I found a collection of her observations, reflections and slices of life wrapped in lyrical, almost poetic stories that evoked strong emotions. Once upon a time, I was a scientist, too. I obtained my MA in Psychology working in the ¿rat room¿ with black and white Sprague Dawley hooded rats as well as the big white ones. My research was behavioral, so I never had to ¿sacrifice¿ a rat, i.e., kill it, at the end of my project. Instead, my rat, Georgie Porgie, became so fat and happy he could barely turn around in his box. There was however, another student in the MA program who clearly enjoyed inflicting pain on his helpless subjects. As this went against the animal care and ethical policies of the university, as well as my personal standards and emotions, I reported the jerk to the department chair. Who did nothing. So, when I read MOUSE CHIMERA, all of those experiences and emotions from that time of my life came rushing forward. Because of all the time I spent in the rat room, I¿m now horribly allergic to rats. I have avoided most rodents and all animal experimentation since 1973. My PhD is in Public Health. I¿ve been managing or teaching humans for over twenty years. Yet, when I read MOUSE CHIMERA, I was back in the rat lab. JJ Brown has the rare gift of pulling you into a story and keeping you there until she decides to release you. If you like a little mystery, I recommend A MOTHER¿S LOVE. If you want a little slice of life in the city, read BROOKLYN SONG. In fact, read all of these thought provoking shorts. You will be trapped by her gossamer strands, glued to the story until the last word--and still wondering and thinking about it long after.
Have you ever met someone who seemed so quiet and unassuming, but when you actually spoke to them you were amazed by what they had to say? This book is that person. JJ Brown has a special gift for unfolding her characters and plot so quietly and gracefully, for providing the reader with time and emotional space to feel connected to the characters. Instead of getting walloped with a turn of plot, I found myself always taken by surprise, thinking, "Is this really happening? Oh my goodness, it is." Brown doesn't go for cheap shock value in any of these stories. She respects her characters as well as the places where they live and visit, no matter the circumstance, and in turn the reader feels respected. One of the characters that Brown respects and allows to bloom is death. Brown somehow is able to give death a personality, and I found it very unnerving how death was often a comforting presence. The subject matter in this collection of stories is so varied and compelling. There's hard science, the horror of modern society, the politics of family life, what it means to have morals and ethics, and so much more. It would be difficult to come away from these stories without examining your own stance and perhaps wondering whether you may be a hypocrite about certain things... This was a wonderful read. I find myself still thinking about the characters and their stories. I hope to see more from JJ Brown soon.
I am reading a delightful collection of short stories: Death and the Dream by J. J. Brown. They are wonderfully crafted and polished little tellings in the style of O. Henry, but without the shop girls falling in love. They have a suspense and color to them reminiscent of Mr. E. A. Poe. The story Mother's Love has very much the slowly building thump-thump of The Tell-Tale Heart to it. In the hot and oppressive welfare office of Brooklyn Song the story is the music, or the music is the story. The lonely, breathless voice of the middle aged woman on a bench in the park in Before the Funeral, begging for forgiveness and companionship, makes the reader keep expecting her companion to be a friendly ghost, like the spirit on the train in On The Orient North in Ray Bradbury's From The Dust Returned. The most enjoyed was Underground. This story sparkles with color, sound, smell and the ruffles of skirts in the breeze. From the very first sentence you are standing on the sidewalk above the subway entrance. The stories are not the simple showing of grisly things or of pop-out monsters. They build on the psychological, like Poe. The voice telling the tales is the secret inner voice we all have, that brushes up against the dark truths and desperation in our families, our circumstances, and ourselves. The stories in Death and the Dream sound, smell, and taste American. Set in upstate New York and New York City stories like Rabbit Nightmare and Mother's Love have a loneliness to them from the empty places that America was built from. Maybe that is the American part, telling your self a story in the dark, alone. The good writing and completeness of each story makes them very enjoyable to read.