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Shoebox Train Wreck

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Traversing the back roads of the south and beyond, these stories probe the boundaries of imagination, taking the reader to the fringes of a society where the world looks different, and once you visit, you won't ever be the same. ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by ChiZine Publications (first published March 2012)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 ea
Kevin Lucia
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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",
T.E. Grau
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
John Mantooth's gritty, dirt road dark fiction is something to behold, and impossible to classify and store other than somewhere near the top of the Southern Gothic flagpole.

Brutal, beautiful, and bracingly real. Odd, and oddly familiar. He's doing Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Lightnin' Hopkins and Elmore James while most of the rest of us are doing Blues Hammer.

Pick up this joint. It's superb.
Gregory Martin
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Horror, despite what detractors may tell you, is a diverse genre. It is more than serial killers and zombies, it is more than the latest Stephen King opus on the paperback rack at Wal-Mart. Because horror is an emotion and not a plot element, most genres of literature have a vein of horror running through them, from gritty war dramas to science fiction dystopias. I consider this “horror-adjacent” fiction: not something that would likely be shelved in the slim horror section of a bookstore, but ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: goodreads-wins
I received this book for free as part of the goodreads first reads giveaway. I absolutely loved this eclectic collection of short stories. I found each one so entertaining and thoroughly absorbing that I read it in one afternoon. I look forward to reading more by this author, and would recommend this book to fans of short stories.
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
See my full review on The Crow’s Caw! ...more
Christopher Irvin
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Could not put it down. Read this book.
Horror DNA
Apr 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tony-jones
Hank Early has been on my radar for several years and both books two and three of his superb Earl Marcus Mystery series, In the Valley of the Devil (book two) and Echoes of the Fall (book three) both feature strongly in two of my annual Horror DNA top tens. If you are interested in ‘Appalachian Noir’ or ‘Hillbilly Noir’, then this detective trilogy set in the mountains of north Georgia is unmissable, and I hope Hank has another Earl Marcus outing in the pipeline before too long. Hank is the alte ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Best short story collection I have read in a long time.Get this book.........NOW.
Jessie (Zombie_likes_cake)
The fact that this is so far my least liked short story collection I had the pleasure of reading this year should tell you how good my reading year and especially my short story reading year has been. Easily a 3.5* but we know how goodreads feels about those half stars...

Mantooth's stories are dark, very dark. They are about broken people, we move in and out of trailer parks and the poor part on the edge of poor small communities where crime might be the only option to make a living. People whos
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Fairly well-written collection of short stories; all pretty depressing and negative about the general state of humanity. I can never tell if these kinds of story collections intentionally re-use specific themes/scenes or if that's just the specific author? This author's writing apparently revolves a lot around trailers/trailer parks, violence, alcoholism, (step-)parental child abuse, and school buses getting hit by trains. It's also very Southern/Appalachian, even before getting to the one with ...more
Scott Waldie
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dark, depressing, and effective stories about the less fortunate in the South, although the themes here aren’t necessarily restricted by region. I’ll admit it was difficult to keep pushing through this collection, and I’m used to reading some seriously grim horror and fantasy, but the difference is that these feel real, they could happen, likely have happened, and this is one skilled storyteller at kicking your knees out from under you and planting you in the mud.
Kurt Weber
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
The last story was very, very sad. But otherwise a good collection.
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
This was a giveaway at a science fiction convention, so I expected it to be science fiction. It was not. Apparently "dark fiction" is another phrase for "awful people being awful". And these people are crushingly, poor (as opposed to the other exemplars of the genre I'm familiar with) so it was mostly just tragic. Which....why would you want to read that? I think I got about four stories in before I decided I could do the crossword puzzle in the magazine in the seatback, since I was out of books ...more
Tony Myles
rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2013
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Aug 19, 2013
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Jun 13, 2013
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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

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