*ARC review by Mel Bosworth

Vampire Conditions
Brian Allen Carr. Holler Presents, $9.99 paperback (115p) ISBN 9780983258902

Vampire Conditions finds author Brian Allen Carr (Short Bus) busting his ass and giving the reader gritty and powerful stories that pop like pistols and leave the head filled with gray, swirling smoke. Six short stories fill out this deceptively slender collection that’s spotted with four flash pieces, and each story—and each flash, for that matter—is rich and heady, offering up characters and worlds that are often dark, full, and intriguing. In Lucy Standing Naked, a young Texan boy befriends the title character—a precocious and daring woman who provides encouragement and protection—as he struggles with identity issues and his potential as an Asian-American country singer. “I didn’t get mad at my mom when she told me I was adopted on my twelfth birthday. Mainly because she had already told me on my eleventh birthday. And on my tenth birthday. And on my ninth. On my eighth birthday, though, that time was different. That time I cried and cried.” The story is incessantly surprising, and in the end it’s about a boy learning how to garner confidence. In Everything Will Fall Its Way, a man brutally murders a possum that startles him only to find that the possum is pregnant. So begins another wonderfully full story, this time about a man in search of someone/something to care for. In large part, Carr’s characters are affected by some kind of loss or separation and so they’re looking for something—assurance, a friend or companion, a god. They’ve made their adjustments on the fly—like we all do—and they carry themselves in an off-balance, uneasy, very human way. They’re flawed—sometimes through no fault of their own—yet highly motivated which makes them compelling. The mentally challenged character in Corrido, for example, is hell-bent on stabbing his teacher. “He dug his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small pair of scissors. ‘I can see that you’re angry,’ I said. ‘What do you want to do?’ The horny one stepped toward us swinging the scissors as he neared.” Carr exhibits extraordinary craft and patience in his writing which allows his characters to be relatable and worthy of our sympathy. Throughout, Vampire Conditions strikes a perfect balance between pensive and humorous, and it shows a writer hard at work and well on his way to the next great thing. (August, 2012)

Purchase Vampire Conditions HERE.

Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at melbosworth.com
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