A few months ago, I read and enjoyed Wesley Southard’s novella One for the Road, so I was excited when I heard about the release of his current collection, Resisting Madness. Let’s start with discussing the cover of this book—it’s an eye-catching piece of work, made to look like an 80’s era VHS. The cover immediately drew me in and set the tone for the stories inside.
This collection contains a solid mix of writing, with pieces ranging from flash fiction to novella-length. I liked all of the stories in this mix, but there were definitely some standouts for me among the bunch. My favorites varied in length and topics, and I think that Southard does a great job of entertaining the reader no matter how many words are contained in the story. Some of the flash fiction pieces really packed a punch in a few pages.
My Top 5 in this collection are:
CONFUSION IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: I had the pleasure of reading this story in the “Midnight Rituals” chapbook, and I really enjoyed it. It was another favorite among this bunch. It’s one that left me surprised and it’s hard to forget. I think this qualifies as flash fiction, and it’s a great example of a short story that leaves an impression on the reader within just a few pages.
HOME INVASION: this was a novelette co-authored with Nikki McKenzie, and I really enjoyed it. This one delivers a solid sense of dread and creepiness.
ARREARAGES: a memorable little tale of revenge; it’s cringe-worthy in the best way, and I won’t say more because it’s a short one and I don’t want to ruin it.
HE LOVES ME NOT: a flash fiction story and just a fun, creeptastic read—this one is unique.
RESISTING MADNESS: the title piece is a novella, and I thought it was great placement to finish out the collection with this story. I think this was my favorite story in the collection. I found myself steadily flipping the pages, eager to read what was coming next.
Wesley Southard has a unique voice and does a great job creating memorable stories. The characters and dialogue stand out and allow for these tales to stick in the reader’s mind. Even if you can’t find a relatable character or one to connect with in this collection, you won’t easily forget them. I also enjoyed the little bits of humor sprinkled into some of the stories. I’ve got another of this author’s books on my shelf and I look forward to reading that one soon, along with whatever else comes next.
Publisher: Death’s Head Press
Note: I received an advance copy of this title for review consideration.