The Other Iron River, by Tony Rabig is a collection of three short stories that was recommended to me by a good friend. I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise, but I am very happy I did. Rabig's writing style is a deceptively simple one. That is to say his stories are not overly complex, yet I find myself thinking about them long after having finished reading. Each of them seems to ask a question of the reader, what would you do in similar circumstances?
The Other Iron River is the first story, and it is about a couple who moves to a small town only to discover that there is a parallel town that exists right outside of their house, stuck forever in the town's heyday of the early 1900s. They have the option of staying in the present and living out their lives or they can cross over and stay in the past permanently. It begs the question, what would you do given the choice? Would you choose to live in the present and move forward, good or bad, or would you go to the other place in the past where everything has a guaranteed happy ending? Or does anything in life ever come with that kind of guarantee?
The second story in the collection, Ghost Writer, is a fanciful story about a man who inherits his grandfather's house, and with it his grandfather's abilities. We all like to think that if we are taken too soon in life there is a way of continuing on with our legacy, and someone to do that for us. This story was appealing to me since it was about books, but at the same time it also lacks that something extra that I have come to expect from Rabig based on the other two short stories. It entertained me, but it is not one that I will continue to think about long after reading.
Acts of Faith is the third and final story, and this one is about zombies. I am not normally a fan of zombie fiction, but this particular story was about more than that. It was about a man who was alone, perhaps the last survivor, but he certainly hopes not. He takes it upon himself to try and preserve a few books. What are the most important books? What are the ones that would be needed to preserve a culture and nurture what could be a new civilization, if anyone survives? Do we all feel this sense of arrogance that we alone will get to decide this in a similar situation?
I enjoyed reading this collection mostly because it allows the reader to play the what if game; it allowed me to let my mind wander and ponder the questions that it unobtrusively posed. I enjoyed Rabig's writing style, the simplicity of the stories that still made me think. That is often a hard thing to achieve, but he did it well here.
You can purchase this title by clicking on the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR
I give it four cocktails.