Hark: A Christmas Collection

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Hark, A Christmas Collection is not the traditional set of heartwarming holiday tales. Though our favorite holiday movies and songs on the radio tell us this time of year is cheerful, bright, and full of love, the reality is that it’s not possible for everyone’s holiday to be as holly jolly as the song suggests. This collection is an exploration into the perspectives of those people – the ones who are coping with loss, misery, hurt, and even problems as serious as homelessness and long-term illness during the “most wonderful time of the year.”

“Hark” follows the story of a former police officer who is left spinning his wheels; “Seducing Santa” explores the mind of a woman who wants something a little extra this Christmas; “Bracelet” follows an aging schoolteacher still mourning the death of her husband; “Everyone Wants Me To” depicts a violently dysfunctional family from three perspectives; “Snow Globe” portrays a man in transition stuck at an unbearable party; and “The Heralds” shows a couple whose bad news has recently been turned into good news, with a few extra consequences.

Each character experiences a serious problem or setback but not in the cutesy, conveniently inconvenient trope of holiday “meet the family” films where everything ultimately turns out for the best. The problems of these characters aren’t resolved in ninety minutes of screen time – these dark and personal demons, such as loss, alienation, and fear, persist even as one of the most joyous holiday seasons comes upon them.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The reality Bog has created for his characters is sometimes brutal, but his stories do not lack the whimsy and nostalgia that are ever-present in the Christmas season. The stories are peppered with humor: “Seducing Santa,” for example, brings in a slinky, salacious tone that breaks up the melancholy of some of the other tales.

The stories are flavored with the personalities and atmospheres of the many places Bog has spent time living and working – the University of Michigan and the Great Lakes, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, and the San Juan Islands in Washington State, creating a uniquely American backdrop.

The stories are short, highly readable, and entertaining in sheer variety. Bog’s approach is a creative twist on the traditional Christmas story genre – one that captures the story of the many people in this world who undoubtedly do not have a picture-perfect Hollywood-ending Christmas, but who go on living, pushing ahead and hoping in spite of it.

Reviewed By:

Author Justin Bog
Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 208 pages
Publisher The Author's Advocate
Publish Date 2016-Nov-04
ISBN 9780985475178
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2016
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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