by Weston Mize
When approaching a series of short stories one typically has trouble reading the array from cover to cover without pause. This was definitely not the case when reading Magnificent Mistakes by Eric Bosse. I read it all in one enjoyable sitting.
It was a gripping collection of lucid dreams, dabbling on the edge of ethereal. Bosse skillfully leads readers through a thick, murky wood of whimsy, littered with moments of gritty realism that one rarely experiences in short fiction. No stone is left unturned when you venture through this lush work. Bosse tackles sexuality, relationships, religion, family, and the environment, all within nineteen pieces, each absolutely different from the last. Though this may seem disjunctive to some readers, I think it plays up the versatility of Bosse’s first effort.
In “Eight years later,” a beautifully spun story, a girl who is struggling with the past finds solace in simple biology. Without giving too much away I would like to say that it is one of a few outstanding examples of the way Bosse intricately sets a scene so that in the end he is holding your heart in his hand, and gently squeezing it.
Bosse also has a sense of humor that borders on the macabre. In “The Master of Submission” Bosse tells the tale of a sexually frustrated young man named Chess, who is in agony as he copes with the painful loss of his dominant partner Priti. She leaves him after he invents a new submissive device, stating that, “U top from the bottom… And u r the worst bottom imaginable.” She also calls him a “passive-aggressive control freak.” The humor is not in the situation, nor is it in the constant neurotic banter between the two of them, but in the almost childish way the young man deals with it. At one point Chess threatens to expose incriminating photos of the two of them in very compromising positions. Needless to say, it all unravels dramatically and I like to feel everybody gets what they deserve, no matter how naughty they have been.
“Plantlife” is a shimmering example on how a good dream can get a little weird. Monah, an older woman, living alone in the foothills of Colorado, writes a rabbi she encountered over two decades earlier to inform him of strange happenings concerning the plants at her small cottage. Take “Little Shop of Horrors,” water it with the sardonic irony of a witty Hitchcock, then put it out beneath the warm rays of religious symbolism and what you get is a whimsical tall tale. It reads like everything a great classic episode of The Twilight Zone would have and more.
The collection was not without its shortcomings. I found some of the stories rushed, and situationally unbelievable. In “The Invisible World,” characters Richard and Carolyn are lovers, torn asunder by over a decade of difference between their ages. In short, Carolyn is unfulfilled by the marriage. I feel the chemistry between the main characters to be forced and underdeveloped. There was no real initial attraction or chemistry between the two of them until they were all over each other. This caused the romance to seem more lustful and wanton. This disconnect between a genuine sense of love and affection as coupled with the kind of lust that feels forced, leads me to deduce the story could have been constructed better, perhaps even developed into a gripping full-length novel. Don’t pass over this canto though, for you may miss the diamond in the rough. The conversations with Richard’s senile grandfather are well worth this minor setback in the quirky exchanges between Richard and Carolyn, and the twist at the end is like a dramatic freight train plowing into an orphanage full of button-nosed bunny rabbits.
All in all, Magnificent Mistakes is a worthwhile debut from a skilled writer.