The End of All Seasons
by Russell Davis
Review by Steve Sawicki
Wildside Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781434441713
Date: 12 March 2013 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In full disclosure I need to note that Russel Davis teaches at Western State Colorado University in the low residency masters level writing program there. The one that my wife runs. That being said I have never let a relationship get in the way of an honest review.
The End of All Seasons is a collection of Russell's short fiction with some poetry thrown in. The book is broken into four parts, one for each season. While the stories in each section do relate, seasonally to that section, my sense is that the relationship is more emotional than literal. But I could be wrong about that since it's not stated and I try to not guess what a writer is thinking about or trying to say, but, rather, try to stick with what is said and how well and whether the whole thing is entertaining.
The one thing that is clear is that the majority of the work revolves around relationships between men and women, and not always in a nice way, but more often in ways that are disappointing or disturbing and while there is occasional redemption it is often after the fact or in a way that is perhaps not much better than the initial state. Some would say this is simply a reflection of life and that could be accurate. It would probably be more accurate to state that it is a reflection of the writer's life and I would imagine that many readers will end up there after reading this collection.
The fourteen stories here are all well crafted. Most are genre related--SF, fantasy, and horror, with a couple of mainstream thrown in for good measure. If anything this should help you understand that it is not genre that makes the writing good but the writer. It can also be interesting for the reader to compare the non-genre to the genre stories that are similar. If I had to use one word to describe the contents I would use crafted and I would use it in the way that means to say a craftsman worked here, albeit good fiction often leaves a story with no mark of the hand that tended creation.
Many of these tales reflect death and relationship and obligation and despair and life the way it more likely is than the way that fiction often creates. This is not simple or easy writing to do as it becomes all too easy to place too much here or too much there and imbalance the piece. There needs to be enough hope to make the tragic ending meaningful, enough care and love to make the sacrifice poignant.
In a final flurry of disclosure I must state that this is not the kind of fiction that I would normally go out of my way to pick up. Having said that I need to also say that this collection is definitely worth picking up. Writing short fiction is very hard to do and Davis does it very well. The book, for all of the somewhat depressing subject matter, is still entertaining and enjoyable. There is a positive payoff to each piece which makes the reading of it worthwhile.
Recommended. Go, find, buy.