Snow by Howard Odentz is as near perfect a short story as I have ever read. It occurred to me at one-third of the way into the story that every paragraph served a purpose. There were no wasted words. Each paragraph enticed the reader to go on to the next one. There was no sense of an author writing, “Oh, I forgot to mention this so I will explain things in the next couple of paragraphs.” This story charged forward at a very aggressive fast pace and then rewarded the reader with a nice surprise at the end. Many readers might figure out what was coming at the 90% point but if they don’t, the surprise is clever and twisted. Best of all, the price on Amazon is USD 0.00. I gave this novel five Amazon stars and will certainly download his longer novels, even the one with the weird price of USD 3.03.
Other than an interesting, bizarre, and twisted story, the Odentz use of language also captures reader attention. At times it requires reflection to parse meaning. In contrast, there is dialogue that appears “normal” which is hilarious in context because a reader won’t expect it at the point in the story where it appears. Here is a difficult to parse sentence:
“I needed it (flashlight) if I was going to go spelunking in The Toke and Blow in search of a guy who could understandably murder us on the spot for committing coitus interruptus in search of a bone.” (Kindle Locations 110-112).
I look for stories I can use in my English as a Second Language university class. I can not estimate the time it would take me to explain the above.
Here is a passage I found hilarious:
“THERE’S A DOOR at the back of the library,” I blurted out. Both Danny and Jackie stared at me blankly. I shook my head. “It’s the big room with all the books in it.” (Kindle Locations 387-389).
It would be difficult to find a more unlikely group of misfits existing as close friends while in high school. Tyler seems to be normal and acts as defacto leader although each of the other two might depose him depending on the situation. Jackie, a boy trapped in a girl’s body, took the lead when refusing to dissect a frog. That caused the Terrible Trio to experience Saturday detention because all laughed as Jackie assigned a new name to the Biology teacher. The three decided the Friday night before Saturday detention was a good time to get stoned as a type of preparation for the punishment to come. During the Friday festivities Tyler was the leader. Danny was never a leader but he did find the smokables and it was his actions that drive the story plot.
I consider this 34-page short story suitable for the YA genre. The Amazon page for this story does not list it as that way. Perhaps the language used to depict of Jackie’s sexuality (confirmed lesbian) Danny’s sexuality (confirmed gay) and Tyler’s sexuality (not into boys anymore) was too direct for the PC (Political Correctness) police. My question is always, “Will I let my 15-year-old son read it?” I will recommend he read it as a condition of getting more time on his PC (Personal Computer). This is good storytelling and writing.