Review: In Search Of and Others
Short stories are not my cup of tea but at the behest of a close friend I decided to check out Will Ludwigsen’s short story collection IN SEARCH OF AND OTHERS (Amazon). This friend assured me that Will was a talented author and suspected that I would appreciate his fiendish wit. And so once again I took a step outside my comfortable bubble of security and exclusion to try something different. It’s becoming apparent that I should clear my mind of preconceived notions because IN SEARCH OF AND OTHERS struck a strong emotional cord.
“Reality leaks,” he told us at the first meeting. “The consciousness that imagines us into existence doesn’t always remember all the details. It gets distracted. It lets things slip. It can’t keep up the illusion in all places and all times, and it’s our job to find those places and times, to peel back the edges.” (page 59, “We Were Wonder Scouts”)
This collection includes fifteen short stories, offering glimpses into the mysteries of the universe. It’s a powerful anthology that moved me in more ways than one. Ludwigsen asks a lot of deep questions and provides answers that are deep and weird and eerie and whimsical. I didn’t skip over a single story (a first, even regarding collections I enjoy) and I didn’t skim either. If anyone ever decides to revive The Twilight Zone I dearly hope that they contract Ludwigsen to pen the scripts. It’s a position he may have been born to fulfill. Here are some of the highlights from IN SEARCH OF AND OTHERS…
“In Search Of” – Of course the flagship title of the collection would number amongst the best stories. It compresses a lifetime’s worth of questions into a few pages worth of answers. It properly sets the tone for the stories to follow, suggesting that you can ask questions but there aren’t always answers – and when there are answers they may be stranger than you could have ever expected.
“The Speed of Dreams” – A cute and clever 8th grade Science Fair experiment involving time dilation in dreams. As someone that endures more than his fair share of dreams I found this piece particularly thought provoking. I like the format (it’s written as a paper draft of the experiment) and the ending was…unexpected.
“Whit Carlton’s Trespasser” – I found myself chuckling my way through this story – until the end that is.
“We Were Wonder Scouts” – I feel like this would have also made a good headliner for the collection. It’s a story that encapsulates the theme of yearning, and searching, for wonder.
“A Chamber to be Haunted” – A favorite of mine! I love the idea of a real estate agent that specializes in stigmatized property (i.e. death houses/kill houses/haunted houses). The agent explains the process of selling such a house and I could easily see Ludwigsen crafting a whole novel on this premise. Who would have thought real estate could be gripping?
“Prudenter to Dream” – Another story that could be worked into a full-length novel. This story is somewhat like Inception, but without all the Hollywood special effects and overly-complex plotting.
“The Ghost Factory” – This one hit a little too close to home, but that does not make it a bad story. In fact, it’s a very good story for all the sadness that comes with reading it. If there is one piece from IN SEARCH OF AND OTHERS that is bound to stick with me it would be this.
“Universicule” – And here we have reached my favorite story of all. The most compelling mystery of this book is the mystery of a book. This too is a terribly sad examination of relationships and the pursuit of the wondrous. It is a perfect note to end on and it continues the enigma of Thuria, which is touched upon in several other tales.
IN SEARCH OF AND OTHERS is a moving collection. It made me nostalgic for a time when I believed in the Bermuda Triangle and other supernatural phenomena. It was a time right before the Internet became so commonplace and there was a bit less transparency in the world. Ludwigsen puts it far better than I ever could in the Foreword, but it tugs the intended heart strings. IN SEARCH OF left me with a mixed bag of emotion and a satisfying feeling that there are mysteries out there and it’s up to us to “peel back the edges.”
- Recommended Age: 14+
- Language: I really can't remember there being any
- Violence: Talk of violence, no direct violence
- Sex: Talk of sex, no direct sex