Strange Weather: Four Short Novels by Joe Hill, New York, NY: William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2017.
In Joe Hill’s first short novel, “Snapshot”, we meet ordinary teenager Michael Figlione. What starts out as a normal day changes when Mike sees his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Beukes, out on a walk. It’s obvious she’s lost, so he takes her back home. After getting home to her husband, Mrs. Beukes claims she wasn’t lost, but was hiding from “The Polaroid Man”. Neither Mike nor Mr. Beukes think much of this. Later, at the neighborhood gas station, Mike bumps into a “scout for the movies”. The one thing that stood out about this guy, aside from the Cadillac he drove was the Polaroid camera sitting on his trunk. “Don’t let him take a picture of you” Mrs. Beukes said. While inside, Mike accidentally spills slushie all over this stranger and the clerk working has his photo taken. What happens next proves he definitely wasn’t using an ordinary Polaroid camera.
The next story, “Loaded” is the most involved story. With several unexpectedly intertwined lives, a questionable teenage murder from almost 20 years ago, and guns, this story has a bit of everything. Mall cop Kellaway has some issues from his time in the military and is having marital problems at home. Roger and Becki are manager and associate at the mall jewelry store, and are involved in some questionable activities with one another. Okello works at the sporting goods store in the mall and has had an encounter with Kellaway in the past. Finally, Lanternglass is a journalist for the local town news. All the characters lives begin to revolve around the mall and each other when a shooting takes place inside.
The third story “Aloft” is literally up in the air. Aubrey has been talked into going on a skydiving trip by friend (and he hopes, future lover) Harriet in honor of their recently deceased friend June. Aubrey notices something weird about a cloud just as they are preparing to jump, but Harriet and the guys who are jumping with them ignore him assuming he’s just scared. After jumping, he finds ground much sooner than he expects. Reminiscent of Odysseus’ encounter with Calypso, this cloud is ‘alive’ and tries to do everything it can to keep Aubrey there with it.
Finally, in “Rain” Honeysuckle Speck lives a normal life in Boulder, Colorado with her love Yolanda. Most of the neighborhood is normal, aside from Elder Bent and his group of apocalypse conspiracy theorists. It was a typical August day until it started raining. Of course it wasn’t an ordinary rain, but a rain of nails and pins. As anyone can imagine, many were caught out in the storm unaware until it was too late. With lives shattered and life as we know it falling apart around her, Honeysuckle is the average person in this situation.
Every story involves ordinary people placed in situations that were anything but ordinary. Quick-paced and engaging, each short story here is sure to keep readers on their toes until the very end.
Ray King is a Circulation Assistant at Graham Public Library. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org