Other People, Other Places
Joe Hilley’s Other People, Other Places, contains three unique novellas and two short stories. All lovers of fiction can find a read they would enjoy in this selection.
I personally found the short story “Nashville” to be my favorite. This tale is told from the perspective of Hayden Carruth, a farmer from Alabama, but a musician at heart. I was touched reading about Hayden’s broken dreams, lost lover, and unsupportive family. Following from Hayden’s high school life to his adult years, many of the challenges he faces are ones we all have faced: fear of the future, fear of making the right choices, and indecision on staying where we are or going elsewhere. The end of this story is touching, as Hayden turns his rocks into gold, finally fulfilling his aspirations despite the difficult path to get there.
“Johnny Tamburillo”, the other short story in this collection, is a beautiful tale of friendship and reigniting lost relationships. Told from the perspective of Tamburillo’s best friend, the reader watches Johnny grow into a teenager after abandonment, rejection, and loss. Upon becoming a young adult, Johnny confronts the ghosts of his past and goes on an adventure to uncover the truth about what happened to those he loved. Inspiring and sincere, the story of Johnny Tamburillo is a read that will truly touch your heart.
“Wackenhut Halfpipe”, a novella, tells the story of Winston and Bromley, a duo who complete each other’s sentences. They are on their way to see Wackenhut Halfpipe, a man whom Winston claims will tell them what they need to know, for Wackenhut Halfpipe knows everything. The story tells of their journey, whom they meet along the way, and presents many thought-provoking questions through Bromley, who questions everything that Winston says. Although I found the camaraderie of Winston and Bromley to be comical at times, I did find this read to be considerably confusing. I found myself having to reread passages to understand what the characters were saying and who was speaking. Overall, I enjoyed the ending of this novella, but I preferred the other works in comparison.
“Other People, Other Places” was similar to “Wackenhut Halfpipe” in that the ending is enjoyable, however, the road to get there is convoluted. The story is told of a New York college professor who is struggling with his identity and why he is having recurring dreams of a café in his hometown. Profound, yet engaging, the end of this story may surprise you.
Finally, “Ludlum: A Novella”, told the story of a woman’s struggle in an abusive marriage with sticky aftermath. Much cannot be said without spoiling the ending, but this story truly kept me eager to continue reading.
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