The three short stories in Light Remains by A. C. Fuller serve as a writing sampler. If you like these stories, you might want to read other works Fuller lists following the short stories. Although this collection is listed on Amazon at a purchase price of USD 2.99, I received this novel for free with no obligation to submit a review. Fuller begins with a short preview of the content of each story. I highly recommend this collection and gave it five Amazon stars. My take on each story follows.
Can You Hear Me Now? A somewhat scary story on the importance of a mobile phone in our everyday lives. The way Fuller equated the loss of a cellphone with recurring degrees and periods of separation as we die gave me a feeling of anxiety like the narrator’s anxious feelings about his cellphone’s “theft.” There is a lot of excellent description of everyday perceptions of the narrator. When eventually replacing his cellphone, the narrator did not go to the Apple store, he went to the Apple Cathedral. There is irony in that “The Feeling” (of loss) the engineer narrator felt was a creation of the narrator, a design engineer of cell phone buttons.
“They say that Facebook is where we lie to our friends and Twitter is where we tell the truth to strangers.” (p.15) is a modern day social media truth that I am sure I will repeat to colleagues (with attribution, of course). This very entertaining story makes me feel less guilty about having and carrying two cellphones.
And Gretchen is the new name for God.
Celebrity-Prayers.net Devon was in lust with April Morgan. He had even given up porn for her, so it had to be serious. At sixteen years old and without experience, Devon needed some sort of inspiration if he wanted to find a way to know April in a more biblical sense. Prayer seemed to be a possible answer and Devon had tried it on his own; he had appealed directly to God. There was no answering flash return message. Then an answer arrived somewhat accidentally by the internet. Devon needed to hire a celebrity helper.
Helpers didn’t come cheap. For just under USD 6000 Devon could have a certified celebrity come to his house and pray for Devon’s success with April. Thank (someone) for rich parents. The celebrity, aged and no-longer-a-celebrity Tyson, arrived, the prayer was done, school started, and April talked to Devon. April promised to play soon. Devon could not express his thanks enough to Tyson. Literally. Tyson would not accept Devon’s thanks. And he told Devon a secret. But that would be a spoiler. To find out the secret, read the story.
An exclusionary clue: It was not the drugs. Reading this story, it almost seems Devon is a pharmacist in training, but the secret has almost nothing to do with drugs. Almost.
The Last Day on Earth of Zelta Jones, Starwoman “The grits was good and smooth that mornin’. And the grease from the bacon was slickin’ up the griddle for the eggs. Customers love bacony eggs.” (p.51). These first three sentences had me hooked on Fuller’s writing style. Grammar mavens would be apoplectic about the first few sentences of the story but luckily for me, I am not one of those creatures.
Ella was an unappreciated and possibly overworked cook in a type of diner that is a stereotype of a diner with an overworked cook, an unappreciative boss, Malcolm, and a colleague, Peg, who spent more time serving Malcolm than she did serving customers. But Ella didn’t care about all that. The cook job was just a time filler. Her real job was to remind Earth people about their abilities to travel in space.
The venue for educating Earth people was a small town, population 485, in Alabama. The effort had to start somewhere but Ella wasn’t sure about why it had to be in such an insular location with such a disinterested population. She would ask her boss about that after she returned. Now, after working at the diner for twenty-six years, she felt it was time to go home. She said goodbye to Malcolm and Peg then prepared for her death. Finally, she would be rid of Ella and return to her almost actual name of Zelta. On Earth, people would think she had committed suicide. Zelta knew death as the vehicle which would take her home. She just had to find a hose.
The rest of the story is her final journey. Along the way there is this excellent line, a product of Zelta’s final reflections: “Nothin’ hurts more than feelin’ a question, feelin’ how big the mystery is, then lookin’ out at a world of wrong answers to wrong questions.” (p. 61). Then there is the final paragraph of the story which is the reader’s reward for reading the story. It is worth waiting for.
I highly recommend this collection for its superior description of characters. Fuller does not describe a character completely and all at once. Instead, he paces the description throughout a story and lets the physical description illustrate the why of character personality and actions.
Did I mention I highly recommend this?