Mary Thornburg's Reviews > Nobody Goes Out Anymore: Futuristic Fiction Post Covid-19

Nobody Goes Out Anymore by D.L. Russell
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it was amazing

First a disclaimer: I had nothing to do with the production of this book, but I was asked to write a Foreword for it and, having worked with the editor on other projects, I was happy to agree.

"Nobody Goes Out Anymore" is a collection of fiction by various authors, written and published as a response to the current coronavirus pandemic. As such, it represents a wide assortment of responses, ranging in structure from traditional short stories to "slices of life" to the fictional equivalent of screams, and ranging in tone from wise concern to humorous comment, from hopefulness to despair. What these pieces have in common is honesty, and honest fiction is always compelling. One of D. L. Russell's great strengths as an editor is that he knows the difference between what's real and what's false. He not only rejects the lie and embraces the honesty, but he's somehow able to recognize the truth in his writers and bring it out. (I wish I knew how he does this!)

If you care to read more of this review, I'm going to mention six or seven of my favorites in this anthology. These are my choices – you may have different ones.

David R. Mellor's "Love in the Time of Everything Being a Bit Shit" traces a man's attempts to find love – or at least to get laid – in spite of social distancing. I laughed at the title and kept on laughing as I read. Funny as it is, though, there's also some deep truth here.

"Round One: Mask vs. No Mask," by Chris Rodriguez, gives readers a ringside seat at bedlam and chaos in the dollar store. It's hilarious and absolutely believable; it doesn't let up; and it has a great surprise ending. What's not to love?

In "Lady Flora Iaso: Psychic Healer," Anna Lindwasser manages to tackle some serious themes – conscience, family dynamics, gullibility, just to name a few – without pontificating. The story is tightly constructed and fast-moving, and her characters' voices are pitch-perfect.

Eartha Watts-Hicks' "Or Else What?" is one of the slices-of-life stories that's both excruciating and all too believable. What happens when a matriarch hands down her crown and rod to the next in line? Love, understanding, and family loyalty matter, and Watts-Hicks' central character has the strength needed for the job. But some situations will test any strength, and what we have here is that kind of situation. I'm sure many readers will be able to identify.

"Throwing the Curve," by R. D. Doan, is a well-constructed story about unexpected friendship, conflicting expectations, and baseball. It could be the kind of story with a happy ending, but the virus has thrown a curve that seems impossible – at least in the U.S. in 2020 – to see coming. Doan's story is unwittingly and no doubt unwillingly prophetic.

The book's editor, D. L. Russell, contributes a story entitled "Earnestine Greaves, You Done Fucked Up." This, sadly, is true, and Earnestine Greaves knows it. As with every story I've ever read by Russell, this one is intense, focused, wildly imaginative, and highly entertaining. I read it once, will never read it again, and in a way I wish I hadn't read it at all. But if you don't mind fictional bad things happening to fictional good cats, go for it – you won't be sorry!

My favorite story here is the first one in the anthology, "Under the Shadow" by Joanna Michel Hoyt. Set in an isolated rural American small town, it's a gentle and gently humorous fable reflecting how the pandemic's been going for many of us. Because it is a fable, and at the same time an accurate reflection, it's a way of looking at ourselves without either antagonism or fear. And because it's all true – as fiction can be true – we can maybe take some hope from it.
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Reading Progress

August 12, 2020 – Started Reading
August 12, 2020 – Shelved
August 14, 2020 – Finished Reading

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