Voices of the Lost and Found (Wayne State University Press), a collection of short fiction by Michigan author Dorene O'Brien, is brilliant. So brilliant that trying to chase and pin down the exact thread of fabric that makes it brilliant is like attempting to outrun one's own shadow.
O'Brien's mastery of character and voice astounds, close to the point of making discerning readers wonder if the writer has multiple personality disorder. How else does one adult female so perfectly get inside the minds, the voices and the psyches of so many complex and elaborate characters?
O'Brien's stories feature a husband in therapy who dreams of playing baseball with Fidel Castro, a kidnapped teenage girl who is fed soup and raped by her abductor, and a group of rough men working in a fishery, one of whom is discovered feeding chunks of the boss's body to a pond full of bass.
The common denominator in this collection of stories is the pervasive darkness, the core of the collection. There's no sunshine and rainbows here--it's all shadows and shivers. An undeniable sense of the macabre prevails.
Of course, there's well written creepy and weakly written creepy. This is the good stuff. It's well conceived and tightly written with expert dialogue and fresh content.
It's no surprise O'Brien, a teacher of creative writing, won awards for three of the short stories in this collection. Readers attracted to quality fiction and dark themes will find a new favorite author in O'Brien. Her writing is a hybrid of the character-writing talents of Flannery O'Connor and Stephen King's power to invent fresh themes that haunt us.
Causes Dorene O'Brien Supports
The Humane Society, ACLU, Defenders of Wildlife