Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: The Shallow End of the Pool by Adam-Troy Castro, Creeping Hemlock Press, 2008, 56 Pages.

Though not meant to be a political statement, “The Shallow End of the Pool” is an obvious indictment of the direction our society, as a whole, has embarked upon. Ours is a world where everyone is ‘special’ and no one can take responsibility for his own actions or words, instead proffering flimsy excuses as legitimate reasons for offensive or even criminal behavior. Ours is a society of incessant demands for ‘respect’, of people unable to resolve differences in a civil manner, where we celebrate those who behave badly, where we root for the rude, and covet the infamous of reality television. The reality is that “The Shallow End of the Pool” may very well be where we end up.

We all know that divorce is another word for divisive. The cliché of that fine line is taut and bright. In Mr. Castro’s tale, we’re privy to the travails of an average American family - husband, wife, daughter and son – in post-divorce mode. Here, the happily unmarried couple continue to smolder with vengeance, finally devising the one sure way to settle their differences by using their own teen aged children in a human cock-fight; the modern gladiator story.

This tale is told as a soliloquy by daddy’s little girl. Sown and grown under strictly regimented physical and mental training – with added doses of steroids, Jen has been raised for just one purpose – to fight her equally abused twin brother who is representing the fortunes of their mother, known as ‘The Bitch’.

This thin and light fifty six page volume is clearly the heaviest work I have read for my column to date. This is a well-crafted tale full of hate, action and a myriad of other confusing emotions. Be advised that not only is the plot harsh, but of necessity the language and sexual references mirror the plot to create an effective story. Neither is undue nor overdone given the subject matter.

Each sentence is as loaded as a paragraph, carrying the reader with powerful emotions through what is both a sad tale and an even sadder commentary on our society. I was drained after reading this, and you will be too. If you are not, then something has died in you.

That said, there is a ray of hope that I will not give away simply because I want you to buy this book and confront the horror that is man and his emotions.

Buy this book

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