Hoaxes and Other Stories By Brian DiNuzzo

I picked up this book at the North Texas Book Festival. Most of you know that I have a love/hate relationship with short stories. Most of the time I am way too curious to be appeased with only a few pages, but sometimes the premise is too compelling. Such was the case with this book – plus, bonus points, the author is originally from New Jersey and while he could not hook me up with some decent pizza, I still bought his book.

Ok in this case the title really does tell you what you need to know about these stories (except the last one but I’m getting ahead of myself). The first story drops you into an actor’s life who is regularly reported as dead. That can really ruin his day and make those around him freak a bit. I loved the play on fake Hollywood, the characters, and the level of vicious death reports.

From here we travel through a child’s attempt at running away (is the storm real or a metaphor?) to a new neighbor in an apartment that might be what it appears – or not? In the middle is Undeniable Proof of the Bigfoot, which was a sweet reprieve yet poignant tale. Victories gave me a smile and ‘you go!’ feeling. Clones & Pub Runner lulled me into characters, but then I got bugs from the Dying Mall – I’ll let you figure that one out but my skin was crawling. There are a few more thought provoking tales sprinkled in until you get to the last one – that I’m still pulling apart in my mind – The Sisters. It appears on the surface to be the tale of Sisters who consider then accept their lives in a religious order – but is that all – what’s the hoax – and here’s where my mind takes off.  The push and pull of their beliefs and central thoughts. The big religion angle that controls. The peace that some find in their beliefs – hmmmm – like I said, still thinking.

All in all, this one collection I would recommend reading. The author is new to the game but brings a backpack full of creative offerings.

SUMMARY

A small-time celebrity keeps dying. A Bigfoot hunter and his grandson give presentations on the elusive beast. A disgruntled office drone reaches his breaking point and quits, in the middle of a zip-line trust fall.

The characters populating Brian DiNuzzo’s debut short story collection may be eccentrics, but at their core they are struggling to get through life, dealing with unmanageable bosses and tedious jobs, and trying to maintain their interpersonal and romantic relationships. These are people seeking to improve their circumstances, people striving for utopia but willing to accept much less. Frustrated and weary, downtrodden and misguided, they still hold out for the dim light of hope.

DiNuzzo navigates ordinary settings—Southern California, South Philadelphia, suburban and city streets, office buildings, derelict apartment complexes, the public library, the airport, the shopping mall—with quirky characters and odd situations. These stories ask us to wonder how falsehoods pervade private life. Through his twelve distinct tales, DiNuzzo asks: What’s real? What’s fake? Does it matter?

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