“The Garbage Doll” by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Reviewed by Nicky Magas
In “The Garbage Doll” by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, an aging writer is taken back into a strange event of her past by a series of dementia dreams. There, she revisits Lucy, the blind ukulele player she was once in love with, and the strange one-eyed marionette that dances without strings. The doll is more of a mystery now than ever, and when it stares at her, it stares right into her soul.
“The Garbage Doll” is disjointed and jittery, perfectly matching a fractured, end-of-life narrative and mirroring it with the movements of the dancing doll. The reader is never able to get a sense of footing in the story, and the resulting impression is that the protagonist cannot either. The connections within the story are somewhat vague, leading to a very unfinished feeling, the sense of something left undone, one more thing that could have been explored, and one more regret for an opportunity unfulfilled.
In Andrew Fox‘s “Youth Will Be Served” Samantha has her eye on the strange old ladies who swim out past the surf at Miami Beach. It could just be her imagination, but she’s sure that they always come back to the shore with one less swim buddy. It’s not until she decides to investigate for herself that she discovers their dark secret, and the true meaning of sacrifice.
“Youth will Be Served” comprises two overlapping stories that share a common theme of death, love, and the willingness to give up everything. That said, the story feels linear and predictable, with too little impact at the end to make it satisfying overall. I loved the murder mystery in the middle, however a bit more of the ominous would have made this story really shine.