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The Book of Duelsby Michael Garriga
Synopses & Reviews
Fierce, searing, and darkly comical, Garriga's debut collection of short-short fiction depicts historical and imagined duels, re-envisioning in a flash the competing points of motivation—courage and cowardice, honor and vengeance—that lead individuals to risk it all.
In this compact collection, settling the score” provides a fascinating apparatus for exploring foundational civilizing ideas. Notions of courage, cowardice, and revenge course through Michael Garrigas flash fiction pieces, each one of which captures a duels decisive moment from three distinct perspectives: opposing accounts from the individual duelists, followed by the third account of a witness. In razor-honed language, the voices of the duelists take center stage, training a spotlight on the litany of misguided beliefs and perceptions that lead individuals into such conflicts.
From Cain and Abel to Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickenson; from John Henry and the steam drill to an alcoholic fighting the bottle: the cumulative effect of these powerful pieces is a probing and disconcerting look at humankinds long-held notions of pride, honor, vengeance, and satisfaction. Meticulously crafted by Garriga, and with stunning illustrations by Tynan Kerr, The Book of Duels is a unique and remarkable debut.
"The contesting spirit of 'one last chance at revenge' sets the stage for this riveting flash fiction collection composed of tripartite narratives of battles both historical and imagined. In Garriga's debut work, two opposing combatants voice their account of events leading up to the conclusive moment of their duel, followed by a third perspective of a witness. This unique form allows for an intimate study of individual motivations and their final decision for combat, told in a descriptive and lyrical language that transports readers across time and continent, seamlessly occupying minds of both the famous and unfamiliar. In 'First-Called Quit: Pelham v. Vanderhosen,' a plantation owner fights a foreman of another plantation for roughing up his slave. Enraged at the blatant disrespect, he vows, 'no matter the rules, I'll not call quits or hear them neither until I am satisfied.' Abel and Cain duke it out just East of Eden in 'Slouching Toward the Land of Nod: Abel v. Cain' with God as their Eternal Witness. In 'It's a Family Affair: Sellers v. Sellers,' a family in Iowa pits their troubles against each other in couples counseling. While some stories are stronger than others, overall Garriga triumphs in his compelling portrayal of the tension between vengeful characters as justice is duly served. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Michael Garriga holds a Ph.D. from Florida State Universitys creative writing program. His short fiction has appeared in New Letters, Black Warrior Review, storySouth, Southern Review, and elsewhere. Garriga lives with his family outside of Cleveland, OH, where he teaches creative writing in the English department at Baldwin Wallace Unversity. The Book of Duels is his first book.
Tynan Kerr was born in St. Paul, MN. He received a B.F.A. from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He currently lives in South Minneapolis.
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