Priced Nostalgia, $1.99
The Author won the 2001 Julia Fonville Memorial Prize for Fiction Writing as well as the 2001 West Branch Literary contest. I can’t say that I am familiar with any of these awards but I can say that this novella revolves around a simple freshman acting class assignment from Professor Constantine: write a play and cast your classmates in it. Unfortunately, what happens is that one kind of method acting that won’t be appreciated by even the most discerning critic in the audience. I won’t say anything more because that will be spoiling this story!
Let me get this out of the way first: I don’t like the silly fourth chapter where the author decides to pull a “Hey, I’m talking to my characters!” stunt just to end the story in a manner that she can justify as creative gimmick rather than a WTF-kind of abrupt ending. I think the story would have been so much stronger and darkly humorous without that self-conscious and gimmicky last chapter. Still, the first three chapters are superb examples of very effective dark humor that has me laughing out loud even as a part of me relates pretty well to various aspects of Leslie, Julianne, and even Libby. The best kind of dark humor, to me, is one where the author takes recognizable aspects of humanity and exaggerates them into something morbid yet funny without completely distorting them into something unrecognizable, and I think Ms DePiano has succeeded very well in this respect. This story is just too fabulous that way.