Shoebox Train Wreck
John Mantooth
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Shoebox Train Wreck

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"The living haunt the dead . . ." These sixteen genre-bending stories are set against a backdrop of sudden violence and profound regret, populated by characters whose circumstances and longings drive them to the point of no return . . . and sometimes even further. A young girl takes a journey to see what is really hidden within the belly of an ancient water tower. A high s...more
ebook, 264 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by ChiZine (first published 2012)
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years ago, connor told me about this idea he had for a game show. it would be called: guess what i'm doing to your dog!! and you can pretty much figure out the rules: contestants would be brought onstage, and based on the types of noises their dogs were making behind a curtain, they would have to guess what was being done to their beloved pet.

and that's how i have always thought of the books that czp publishes: they are usually about the insidious things lurking under the surface of the everyday...more
Kevin Lucia
John Mantooth's Shoebox Train Wreck is a unique, startling, moving collection of genre-twisting stories that play out in those shadowed places that linger as the sun goes down. These stories happen in the marginalized, dark nooks and crannies of life that most folks only dare look at out of the corner of their eyes, if at all. Some of the best stories are:

"A Long Fall Into Nothing", in which an unhealthy, symbiotic relationship spirals down to its only, inevitable conclusion. "The Water Tower",...more
Jared Millet
There's a lot of truth packed into this collection of short stories. Two things pop out in particular:

1) It sucks to grow up poor in the South.
2) Bad things happen on school buses.

This is a weird connection to draw, but Shoebox Train Wreck strikes me as the dark, twisted rebuttal to the argument Ray Bradbury put forth in Dandelion Wine . In my review of that book, I said that Bradbury's stories were a meditation on happiness, and that death was always present as a way to sharpen the joy of each...more
In most collections there is a story that makes you wonder if they needed a filler. Not so with this wonderful collection. I found myself emotionally connected to characters in just a few paragraphs. The stories about school buses take you through a myriad of emotions from every possible angle. The illustrations by Danny Evarts are beautiful. Wood cuts are a very difficult form of print making and it takes a master to get them looking like something other than choppy and static. I bought this bo...more
This short story collection is a plateful of glass: eat at your own risk. It's clear Mantooth is drawing from the same pool of subjects since certain themes remain constant throughout the collection. The poor, the helpless, the lost and all the problems that come from existing under those conditions. The author does an excellent job observing, interpreting, and finally creating characters that are believable and heartbreaking--even when they're winning in their own tragic ways.

(Now, damn, I need...more
I originally heard about this collection of short stories through a Goodreads giveaway. While I didn't win the book, the description stuck with me long enough that I eventually bought the book on my own.

When I originally finished the book, it left the impression of an well-written and satisfying collection of short stories. Once I went through the table of contents to figure out which stories were my favorite, however, I quickly changed my mind. I realized that each of the stories was terrific...more
Shoebox Train Wreck by John Mantooth

11 - A long Fall into Nothing
23 - The Water Tower
38 - Halloween Comes to County Rd. Seven
48 - Walk The Wheat
66 - This is where the Road Ends
84 - Shoebox Train Wreck
95 - The Best Part
117 - Slide
131 - Saving Doll
152 - On the Mountain
163 - The Cecilia Paradox
180 - Chicken
195 - James
209 - Litany
218 - Sucky
238 - Thirteen Scenes from Your Twenty-Fourth Year
Publication History
About The Author
About The Illustrator

A great quote from one character "the d...more
I loved this collection. I think I liked each story better than the last and my favorite was always the one I just read. I'm a Stephen King fan, but even in King's short story collections, I usually find some that just don't grab me, so I skip them. Not so with this book. John Mantooth's writing moves the reader along at a quick pace because you will want to see what the next word, phrase, or page is going to bring.
Best short story collection I have read in a long time.Get this book.........NOW.
Christopher Irvin
Could not put it down. Read this book.
One of the best collections of short stories I've read - bar none!

I don't usually read short story collections. There's usually one or two goodish stories and then the rest are filler. Not so with "Shoebox Train Wreck." Each and every story is a five-star winner.

I identified with so many of the characters in these stories. Mantooth does a superb job of bringing them to life. I also enjoyed the Alabama and Texas locales. And what's with the kudzu so prevalent throughout the book, just like it is...more
This book is a collection of short stories, most are naturalistic, a few supernatural, written in a highly readable style. Perhaps these stories are more like tragedies than horror fiction, though there is at least a horrific aspect. Usually a person dies. The characters are poor and/or working class living in the rural South. Since reading this book, I look at school buses differently.

The stories I liked best were the supernatural ones--and I recognize that this is a matter of taste. The titula...more
These are dark and violent stories about desperate people with nothing left to lose. Yet they contain at least a shred of hope and enough compassion to keep them from being relentlessly bleak. Also, they're very good. The Water Tower, This Is where The Road Ends, Saving Doll and Chicken are just some of my favorites. Mantooth is a skilled writer who, thankfully, doesn't shove his talent in your face. He keeps it simple, tells the story, rips your heart out and leaves you feeling like you just go...more
This is going to be kind of a light review because once again I'm doing this at the end of a 20-hour day. STW was a little uneven, but featured decent work overall. "On the Mountain" didn't do it for me - just not my thing, sorry - and a couple of other stories fell a little flat imho. On the other hand, "A Long Fall Into Nothing" and "Walk the Wheat" were nicely crafted, and "Sucky" wasn't. In fact, that piece was a nice throwback to the subtle, creeptastic feeling I got the first time I watche...more
I received this book for free through Goodreads First reads. This book is very dark. Some of the circumstances the characters find themselves in and the decisions or discoveries that are made based on those circumstances are tragic and sometimes disturbing so this book may not be for everyone. I liked this book because sometimes you just don't know why people do what they do, especially when it comes to death and violence. I wouldn't say that it is true for everyone, but some people really are a...more
Fraser Sherman
The two-star review is more about personal taste than quality. Mantooth's stories of working-class rural southerners coping with random violence, dysfunctional families and grief are well written and at times quite powerful, but the point of pretty much all the stories (at least in the half of the book I finished) seems to be that life is nasty, brutish and short, and I can find that out reading the news. The cover description of the book as "genre bending"seems to mean that they have a minimal...more
Disclaimer: I did illustrations for and laid out this collection of tales. I work on a lot of books and stories, actually ... Editing, illustrating, laying them out. And I always try to remain unbiased, and not review or comment (because, c'mon, it doesn't sound right if the artist or editor praises a book). Usually, when I'm done with them, I never want to read or see them again—I've read them all 20-50 times, and I don't want to see my own mistakes. I rarely, if ever, give a 5-star rating on a...more
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Favorite Story 2 9 Mar 31, 2012 10:43AM  
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“A dark and mysterious southern-gothic story with hints of Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Stephen King’s novella The Body, John Mantooth’s voice is masculine and powerful, flavoring the pages with the Alabama wilderness, the turmoil of family and how all of these elements work to shape and nurture teenage boys into men.”--Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donn...more
More about John Mantooth...
The Year of the Storm Broken Branch Thirteen Scenes from Your Twenty-Fourth Year: Short Story On the Mountain: Short Story The Water Tower: Short Story

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