Things Happen by author Christopher Acker
Thank you so much to author Christopher Acker for providing me a copy of his book in exchange for this honest review.
Things Happen is a collection of longer form short stories. There are four stories spanning over 360 pages so you can be sure that they’re full and well developed plots. I prefer these types of short stories. Many collections contain what could better be described as teasers and snippets but author Acker has given us rich tales.
The book starts with what ended up being my favorite of the bunch, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t. This short story is about a young magician who is determined to follow in the footsteps of his hero Houdini. He takes this mission too far and dies during a performance in front of his entire family.
The story follows the magician’s mother as she struggles to grieve. Grief is one of my favorite emotions to see depicted in fiction. In my opinion, it is one of the most complicated and individualistic emotions a person can have. This sad short story understands that everyone really does grieve in their own way.
The rest of the stories in Things Happen are Lady, You Shot Me; The Salazar House of Horrors; and Thank You, Mr. Povich, For All That You Do.
Lady, You Shot Me is an interesting take on race culture, particularly as depicted by Hollywood. It is insightful but makes a few odd choices when blending the fictional setting with real life people. It involves an actor playing the real person Sam Cooke, referred to as Sam Cooke, but then masks who is obviously George Floyd with a pseudonym.
The Salazar House of Horrors is about a man who makes miniature dioramas as a somewhat profitable hobby. He is asked to create a gruesome one for a jury trial. This project takes over his life in no small way. It’s a creative and original story but doesn’t quite land the gut punch ending.
Finally, Thank You, Mr. Povich, For All That You Do involves a disgraced journalist in a fumbling marriage who forms a convoluted strategy to save both his relationship and career. He decides to go “undercover” on the Maury Povich show to reveal some sort of truth about this form of low brow entertainment. Turns out, Maury might just be the good guy after all.
I greatly appreciate the originality of Things Happen. Every one of these stories is unique, bold, and fresh. It is unfortunately rare to read something brand new but Acker has tapped into his creativity and voice to publish a short story collection worthy of any shelf.
I hope to see more from Acker, he’s a strong talent that clearly has many ideas to get onto paper. I recommend picking up Things Happen and anything else he might publish in the future.
4/5 magic wands 🪄🪄🪄🪄
For even more short stories check out Full Throttle
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