In The President's Parasite, Jim Musgrave resurrects all that has gone missing in today's literature: originality. The title story is a Kafkaesque piece from the point-of-view of an intellectual tapeworm trapped inside a moronic president, and the satirical impact is worthy of Swift. The other stories range from a widower trapped inside the Clock Tower in Baghdad that he constructed, to a baseball pitcher who becomes a living vegetable after a batted ball strikes his head. All in all, there is something for everyone in this collection of 30 eye-popping stories from a truly gifted author.
Stephen King commented in one of his booksï¿½sorry I donï¿½t remember which oneï¿½that the popularity of short story compilations has lost favor with contemporary readers, and I guess he should know. If that is indeed the case, I would ask that you make an exception and consider reading Jim Musgraveï¿½s The Presidentï¿½s Parasite and Other Stories as this is an exceptional bookï¿½contemporary, insightful, poignantly honestï¿½a glimpse into the down- or back-side of life.
There is so much Iï¿½d like to say and excerpts Iï¿½d like to share, but that would make this review much too long. The first book I reviewed for this author was a novel titled Iron Maiden. It is my opinion that Jimï¿½s short stories reveal his true talent and gift. From his writings you will experience an intelligent, educated, aware personï¿½socially and politically concerned about real life and our problems in this world. It is also clear that Jim has lived a lot of life in order to tell these tales. Heï¿½s a good writer with a rich imagination, and the book is well-edited.
On second thought, I canï¿½t help but share a few excerpts from his writing with you.
From the Littlest Angel of San Diego, page 133:
"Daddy came back home soon after Brittany joined the angels to take care of Mother when she gets to heaven. He is helping me take care of Mother until she passes on. He isnï¿½t so bad, either, because he doesnï¿½t drink. Maybe I wonï¿½t have to be the mother too long now. Daddy says we need a woman around the house to take care of the little ones. We all walk down to the place where the express comes into town. We never could afford a grave for Brittany, but Daddy always insists that he can see a little angel riding on the engine as it comes into view.
"I must admit, I can see her too, if I look closely. I can see the flowing yellow gown blowing in the wind, the knowing smile, the loving protection that we all needï¿½even big diesel train mechanics. But, sometimes, late at night, when someone is shooting in the neighborhood, or a drunk is yelling out in the street, I can see the train rushing toward me, and I canï¿½t jump out of the way. There is no angel. There is only darkness and emptiness all around me."
From The Clock Tower of Baghdad, pages 180, 181 and 184:
"It was a brilliant plan! Dr. Hussein was going to let each leader in the world experience his invention until he or she entered the state of eternal bliss that he had experienced. No longer would they believe they were powerful or politically correct. Instead, the instant karmic reality of Level II Consciousness would send the infinite world into a state to total understanding and infinite peace!"
"As I push the button, the music stops, but I am instantly aware of a new light all around me. Sounds have become vibrations that I can feel. Colors can be smelled, and I can hear with incredible exactitude. A woman, holding the hand of a child walks toward me, down a long corridor. I wait. She comes into my cell, and it becomes a grotto. Birds are singing and a waterfall trickles down the sides of the green, cascading hills around us. We have morphed into paradise! It is Shahrzad and my son, Muhammad! And soon, as if to complete the miracle, my father, Ibrahim, comes into the light. He is no longer crippled. He walks with pride into my arms. I feel his body, and it is muscular and new, just as it was when I was a youth. And so, when I gaze into the pond before me, I can see I am young again, and the rapturous longing in my heart becomes overcome with joy!"
Jim Musgrave can say so much with so few words, and he does just that, quite beautifully. You wonï¿½t be disappointed.
Reviewed by Kaye Trout - September 21, 2006
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