Where Dead Men Go to Dream – by A.C. Wise (Cdn born – Philadelphia)
Premise: As best I can make out, a rather depressed young man is seeking a way to communicate with his dead girlfriend in order to apologize for unintentionally driving her to suicide.
That the young man is named Jonah is a bit of a giveaway. Reading this I don’t experience a smooth narrative drive so much as a jangled kaleidoscope of vividly captured moments, like looking at a handful of mirror shards each depicting an isolated image from a shattered mosaic. For me the story flashes like a strobe light. The emphasis is not on the plot but on Jonah’s disturbed and obsessive state of mind.
Rating: Not to my taste. At all. The story is riddled with angst. I hate angst. I suffered from extreme depression off and on for more than thirty years (extreme to the extant where a depression clinic at UBC refused to treat me on the grounds they only wanted to deal with patients who had some chance of being cured) and, having reached a stage in my life where I am actually enjoying life, I’m buggered if I want to revisit the atmosphere of regrets and remorse over failed opportunities that used to fog my brain.
Which is to say that the story, despite its “weird fiction” aspect, is psychologically acute and accurate to the point of being painful to a former sufferer like me. Any writer interested into gaining insight into the physiological reality of a character in this condition would do well to read this story.
You might think “Nah, this is unrealistic. Nobody thinks like this. It’s made-up pseudo-intellectual B.S.” I beg to differ. This story hits home, hits hard, for anyone who’s lived through episodes like this.
Well done, in other words. Powerful and effective.