Review: 8th Street Power & Light

Al Kratz
Al Kratz
Oct 27, 2016 · 5 min read

The sun had just gone behind the buildings across the street. The air in the apartment hung thick with vapor from the shower. He draped the rag over the shower curtain and picked up the blood soaked handkerchief that she’d taken off him that morning and set it in the sink to wash. He took off his shirt and the bandaging, undoing the sleeves and letting the shirt drop. He looked at the entry wound and prodded it, pulled back the skin and let it go. It occurred to him that his insides were perfectly black and always had been, that light was foreign to his flesh.

(Loc 2212)

Once again, the post-apocalyptic motif lets Shonkwiler explore universal concepts of morality. With the world stripped of contemporary distraction, the characters reconstructing it face utilitarian questions whose complexity is open to perspective. To Sam, it’s frustratingly complex:

I guess I just don’t believe that we can let ten people get crushed at the fringes so that a thousand can live happily. I don’t like that math. Pain is heavier than comfort.

(Loc 986)

For others, the answer is easier.

Look. Aaron rocked his head from side to side. It’s not the simplest way of living, but people are happy here. Living better than they have been in years. If you want to weigh that against dead drug addicts, be my guest. But we didn’t invent the habit, man. It just followed us here.

(Loc 976)

These kind of questions are around us all every day, but we can be insulated from them by the comforts of the modern world. In the world of Shonkwiler’s books, there is no such protection. Sam has to face these questions and the complexity increases as he uncovers the mysteries of 8th Street. Sam demands the reader’s attention because he refuses to hide even when it would be the safer choice.

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Al Kratz

Written by

Al Kratz

Al's novella-in-flash was recently short listed in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. His publications are listed at alkratz.blogspot.com.

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.