I grew up reading short stories as part of anthologies and reading them in magazines. I think I was used to seeing the classic formats for the way stories were developed. Fiction has changed over the last 30 years and often I think I am a throw back. Often new stories to me don’t seem like they are developed enough or don’t have ending in the fashion I am used to.
I am happy to say that while “Lowlife Underdogs” are not a throw back to the older style fiction it is still a success in my eyes. This is one of those collections you need to own. The stories grow even better after the first reading, you are going to want to thumb through it again and again. I love this collection of stories by Dustin LaValley and I can’t stay enough good about it. The characters are all what could be called low lifes. They are not heroes or heroines in any normal sense of the word but yet they are written with enough “character” that we want them to finish their mission. We want the low lifes to succeed. No matter what mission they are on, not matter how sick and twisted the tale is.
They are a scary enough bunch, which includes the “party girl” who murders rapists and pedophiles in group killing rooms. There is “Bubbles”, the stalking blow-up doll willing to kill for her man. There is the father and child who accidentally meet for dirty evenings with many more situations to follow. I think the book’s themes are clearest in a story called “How it all works out” with a child learning the lesson of his life while seeing a man get murdered in a grocery store. The narrator very successfully twists this boy’s life in a few seconds. The story is less than two pages but has just enough meat to it and works very well.
I look forward to more nights reading the works of Dustin LaValley, something tells me we have just seen the start of a long career. I am just hoping I don’t meet any of his characters in a dark back alley someday, cause if I do, I am screwed. They never stop fighting.